08:47 GMT09 May 2021
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    On 29 November 2019 two people were stabbed to death and three were injured when a convicted terrorist ran amok in central London. Usman Khan was attending a prisoner rehabilitation workshop near London Bridge.

    The mother of a Cambridge University graduate stabbed to death by a convicted terrorist who was attending a prisoner rehabilitation workshop has paid tribute to her son at an inquest in London.

    Her voice breaking, Anne Merritt said of her son Jack: "His death was a tragedy but his life was a triumph."

    Usman Khan, who was freed from prison in 2018, fatally injured Cambridge University graduates Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, before being shot dead by police officers.

    The inquest heard on Monday, 12 April, that after stabbing the pair Khan, 28, was forced to the floor and disarmed by members of the public and then shot dead by police.

    Usman Khan, the Fishmongers' Hall attacker
    © Photo : West Midlands Police
    Usman Khan, the Fishmongers' Hall attacker

    The coroner, Judge Mark Lucraft QC, said Usman Khan began stabbing people inside the Fishmongers’ Hall at the north end of London Bridge during a Learning Together workshop session on a Friday afternoon.

    Two other women - Isabel Rowbotham and Stephanie Szczotko - survived their injuries.

    ​The inquest, which is expected to hear evidence about why Khan was not seen as a security risk when he was invited to the workshop in central London, is expected to last nine weeks.

    ​On Monday, 12 April, Judge Lucraft explained to the jury what options were open to them when recording their verdict.

    Khan, 28, was confronted by John Crilly, a former prisoner, and several other men who pursued him of the Fishmongers' Hall venue armed only with a fire extinguisher and a narwhal’s tusk which had been yanked off the wall.

    The attacker was wearing a fake suicide vest but Mr Crilly has said he called his bluff and told him to detonate it.

    ​Khan was born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent in the Midlands and was arrested in 2010 with eight others, all of whom sympathised with al-Qaeda.

    The nine were plotting to place a pipe bomb in the London Stock Exchange.

    ​​Khan was jailed for a minimum of eight years after admitting preparing terrorist acts but in December 2018 he was released from prison and sent to live in Stafford.

    He took part in a government "desistance and disengagement programme" but did not reveal that he still harboured jihadist thoughts.

    Jack Merritt was a course coordinator for Learning Together, a programme run by Cambridge University's Institute of Criminology, and Saskia Jones, who was also attending the event, had applied to become a police officer.

    The inquest heard pen portraits of both victims on Monday.

    In a statement the family of Saskia Jones said: "She was about so much more than just Learning Together. She should be defined as someone who was driven to change the world."

    They said she had done some "incredible research" on sexual violence and hoped to become a detective helping investigate and support sexual assault victims.

    Sarah, the landlady of The Punter pub in Cambridge, said Jack Merritt called it his second home and she said: "After his death his friends appeared, on bicycles and by taxi, streaming in. This glorious bunch of young people, clinging together in such sadness."
    She added: "He was destined to do great things...and had a sound moral compass."

    Khan's death will be subject to a separate inquest later in the year.

    *al Qaeda is a terrorist group banned in Russia

    Tags:
    murder, London, Al Qaeda, London Bridge
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