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30 Nov, 2019 19:23

London Bridge stabbing victim named: 25yo man who worked on same criminal rehab workshop attacker had attended

London Bridge stabbing victim named: 25yo man who worked on same criminal rehab workshop attacker had attended

A 25-year-old man stabbed to death by terrorist Usman Khan has been named as Cambridge graduate Jack Merritt, who worked to rehabilitate criminals like his killer.

On the day of his death, Merritt was coordinating a ‘Learning Together’ conference organized by Cambridge University academics. The conference aimed to bring together convicts and criminology students, to learn more about “stigma, marginalisation and the role of intergroup contact in reducing prejudice.”

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Khan was also reportedly attending the conference, which was held at Fishmongers’ Hall, next to London Bridge. It is unclear whether he had been invited to speak – as some news reports suggested – or had turned up of his own accord.

Sometime during the scheduled storytelling and creative writing workshops, Khan’s rampage began. Merritt and another woman were stabbed to death, three others were injured, and Khan was subdued by members of the public on London Bridge - which reportedly included some of the convicts attending the workshop - before police officers shot him dead at point blank range. He wore a fake suicide vest under his jacket, and had reportedly threatened to “blow up” the conference building.

Merritt’s father described him in a tweet as a “beautiful spirit” and “champion for underdogs everywhere,” while colleagues paid tribute to his work with offenders.

Jack “was the sweetest, most caring and selfless individual I’ve ever met,” criminology lecturer Serena Wright said. Suffolk Law Centre Director Audrey Ludwig praised his “deep commitment to prisoner education and rehabilitation.”

Khan himself has been on the wrong side of the law for over a decade. When his house was raided by counter-terrorism police in 2008, he took to the BBC to protest his innocence, declaring “I ain’t no terrorist.”

However, he was arrested two years later for plotting to blow up the London Stock Exchange, kill then-Mayor Boris Johnson, bomb a series of London pubs, and establish a terror training camp on family land in Kashmir. Described by a judge as a “serious jihadi,” he was sentenced in 2012 to an indeterminate stretch in prison, before his sentence was fixed at 16 years in 2013. Khan was automatically released on parole last December, against the advice of the original sentencing judge.

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson promising longer sentences for criminals, Merritt’s father has asked that his son’s death not be used to toughen up the UK’s justice system.

“My son, Jack, who was killed in this attack, would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily,” he wrote on Saturday, in a since-deleted tweet.

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