The terrorists who killed eight people on London Bridge and at Borough Market had taken steroids before the attack, a court has heard.

Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, all had high levels of a drug called DHEA in their system, according to a toxicologist speaking at a pre-inquest hearing at the Old Bailey.

The presence of the hormone pill, which can be bought over the counter, was said to be above the physiological range, suggesting it was used in the period from several hours to days beforehand.

A natural supplement, it is widely believed to improve sex drive and help build muscle. There is little medical evidence to support these claims.

The London attack, which took place on 3 June last year, began when the men drove a white van into pedestrians on the bridge.

They then stabbed victims with 12-inch knives in the nearby market. The entire attack lasted eight minutes.

The eight people killed were Londoner James McMullan, 32; Canadian Christine Archibald, 30; Frenchmen Xavier Thomas, 45, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, and Sebastien Belanger, 36; Australians Kirsty Boden, 28, and Sara Zelenak, 21; and Spaniard Ignacio Echeverria, 39.

At least 50 others were injured in the atrocity.

All three attackers, who were wearing false suicide belts to create maximum fear, were shot and killed by police at the scene.

Inquests into the deaths of the victims and the attackers – which will be held separately – will begin early next year.

Police, security services, fire and ambulance services will attend the inquests, as well as the families of both the victims and attackers.

The extent of MI5 knowledge of one of the attackers – ringleader Khuram Butt who was under active investigation by the agency – will form part of the inquiry.

Around 1,800 witness statements have been taken in advance of the inquests.

Lawyer Victoria Ailes, representing five of the victims’ families, said anyone who had CCTV footage or mobile phone film of the attacks should come forward.

Chief Coroner Mark Lucraft QC said anyone wishing to remain anonymous – including families of the attackers – will need to make requests ahead of the inquest.

The use of drugs in the attack – which was London’s third deadly terrorist incident in just three months – echoes Westminster attacker Khalid Masood, who is understood to have taken anabolic steroids in the hours or days before his death.

(c) Sky News 2018: London Bridge attack: Terrorists ‘used steroids’ before attack