Jack Merritt, from Cottenham, has been named as a victim of yesterday’s London Bridge terror attack
One of the victims of yesterday’s London Bridge terror attack has been named by his father.
Jack Merritt, 25, from Cottenham, was the course co-ordinator for Learning Together, the education scheme run by the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology where Uzman Khan had been yesterday afternoon.
They had been running a conference at Fishmonger’s Hall where the attack started.
His father David said in a tweet that his son ‘would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily’.
‘R.I.P. Jack: you were a beautiful spirit who always took the side of the underdog.’
He also said his son had been a ‘champion’ for those who had been ‘dealt a losing hand by life, who ended up in the prison system’.
David said: ‘Jack spoke so highly of all the people he worked with & he loved his job.
‘Thank you for your support. I know his colleagues are in shock- please look after each other at this terrible time.’
Jack studied law at Manchester University before doing an postgraduate degree at Cambridge.
A woman was also killed and three others were injured in the knife rampage carried out by Usman Khan.
Police were called to the north side of London Bridge at 1.58pm on Friday, after reports of a stabbing near Bank station and Fishmongers’ Hall, which was hosting an event called ‘Learning Together’.
Khan, 28, then left the building and headed towards London Bridge wearing a fake suicide vest.
Khan (circled) was confronted by several heroic members of the public, including one who used a Narwhal tusk to try and restrain him
Jack was the course co-ordinator for Learning Together, the education scheme run by the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology where Uzman Khan had been yesterday afternoon
Minutes later, witnesses saw the knifeman being wrestled to the ground by members of the public before armed-response officers confronted him at 2.03pm and shot him dead.
Usman Khan, 28, was jailed in 2012 for terrorism offences for his part in an al Qaida-inspired terror group
Two brave members of the public chased after the knifeman, one armed with a narwhal tusk and another with a fire extinguisher.
Armed police, who confronted the suspect at 2.03pm, were heard shouting ‘stop moving’ twice before shooting the man at close range.
The workshop run by Jack featured storytelling and creative writing moments before Khan began his attack.
Khan had previously participated in Cambridge University’s Learning Together prisoner rehabilitation sessions but had showed ‘no cause for concern,’ a source with knowledge of the programme said.
The conference was posted on eventbrite and stated that it was ‘a day to celebrate, connect and collaborate’.
Workshops included interactive storytelling and creative writing workshops, and a panel discussion was due to take place on ‘the power of education for social justice’.
According to the Learning Together schedule of the day, Khan began his terror spree during the storytelling and creative writing session.
Academics and criminal justice campaigners tweeted about the day at the grade II listed building and a photograph was posted online of the gathering.
Left: One of the heroes of yesterday’s London Bridge attack was a convicted murderer out on day release, James Ford. Right: Amanda Champion – who had the mental age of a 15-year-old – was found strangled and with her throat cut in Kent
The 28-year-old attacker is understood to have been invited to share his experience of prison and wore black clothing and sand-coloured boots, according to The Times.
A witness named Coralie said around 100 guests and 50 staff were in attendance.
Learning Together Five Year Celebration Alumni Event posted the schedule on eventbrite
Khan returned to the hall via the grand staircase after the morning session where he later threatened to blow up the hall, a member of staff said.
He reportedly started ‘lashing out’ in a room downstairs and was heading upstairs when he was tackled by the other conference-goers and ‘bundled out’ of the front door past a room of unarmed people.
According to the source, all those involved in tackling Khan, with the exception of the man reported to be a Polish chef, were ex-offenders.
At the time of the incident they were all either on day release, or had been released on licence.
One of the group was James Ford, who admitted the murder of a woman with the mental age of a 15-year-old, in 2014.
Amanda Champion, 21, was strangled and slashed across the throat by Ford in a completely random attack in Ashford, Kent.
Ford was caught after a Samaritans worker broke a vow of anonymity to tell police that a man who had phoned the confidential service 45 times had confessed to killing a woman.
The source said that risk assessment is ‘front and centre’ in the Learning Together programme, due to the involvement of students.
They added that normal procedures by police and probation service had been undertaken with Khan and he had shown ‘no cause for concern’ up until the moment of the incident.
Khan was jailed in 2012 for terrorism offences for his part in an al Qaeda-inspired terror group that plotted to bomb the London Stock Exchange and the US Embassy and kill Boris Johnson.
In an old letter from 2012, unveiled today, the terrorist begged to be shown mercy as he asked for a course to be arranged so that Khan could ‘properly learn Islam and its teachings, and I can prove I don’t carry the extreme views which I might have carried before.’
The letter written by, terror suspect, Usman Khan, 28, in 2012 from Belmarsh Prison, London, whilst in prison for terror offences, in which he requested to be sent on a deradicalisation course, to better understand Islam and show he had changed
He writes: ‘I am much more mature and want to live my life as a good Muslim and also a good citizen of Britain.
‘So if you could arrange something for me and send me the details, this would be truly appreciated.’
The letter emerged as a furious political row began today after it was revealed that Khan was released automatically from prison last year.
As part of the plotting, Khan’s group planned to set up a training camp in Kashmir, where his family had land.
Khan, born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent, originally received an indeterminate sentence for public protection with a minimum of eight years behind bars after his 2012 arrest, meaning he would remain locked up for as long as necessary, to protect the public.
Usman Khan, shot dead, lies on the ground as a police photographer records the scene at London Bridge after he killed two people
Passing judgment at the time, Mr Justice Wilkie said: ‘In my judgment, these offenders would remain, even after a lengthy term of imprisonment, of such a significant risk that the public could not be adequately protected by their being managed on licence in the community, subject to conditions, by reference to a preordained release date.’
But this sentence was quashed at the Court of Appeal in April 2013 and he was given a determinate 16-year jail term instead, meaning he would be automatically released after eight years.
Judges including Lord Justice Leveson said at the time when reversing the original sentence that the Parole Board was best placed to decide when he would be safe to be released from jail.
But today the Parole Board has released a statement saying that Khan was released automatically and they did not make the decision.
Khan, circled third from the right, had been arrested along with his Al Qaeda cell, pictured, after they were planning a pre-Christmas terror campaign in 2010. Officers had tracked the group, who included from left, Mohibur Raham, Gurukanth Desai, Abdul Miah, Usman Khan, Mohammed Chowdhury and Mohammed Shahjahan in Roath Park in November 2010
It has also emerged today that he was a student and ‘personal friend’ of hate preacher Anjem Choudary. Khan spent years preaching on stalls that were linked to al-Muhajiroun, the banned terror group once led by Choudary.
Today, the Queen paid tribute to those who died as well as those who bravely fought the attacker.
She said: ‘Prince Philip and I have been saddened to hear of the terror attacks at London Bridge.
‘We send our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones and who have been affected by yesterday’s terrible violence.
‘I express my enduring thanks to the police and emergency services, as well as the brave individuals who put their own lives at risk to selflessly help and protect others.’