Two Cambridge university graduates stabbed by homegrown jihadi Usman Khan at a prisoner education event each suffered deep, fatal knife wounds which sliced through major organs, a forensic pathologist said.
Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, were killed by convicted terrorist Khan at Fishmongers’ Hall in central London on November 29 2019, when Khan was invited to travel from his home in Stafford as an example of someone who had engaged with the Learning Together programme.
Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl said Mr Merritt and Ms Jones, who were both Learning Together academics, bled to death after being attacked.
Mr Merritt received 15 such injuries during the attack, Dr Fegan-Earl told the inquest jury at City of London’s Guildhall on Monday.
He said this included a 7.2cm-wide horizontal stab wound to his right upper chest, which cut through a rib, passed down to the diaphragm and the liver, and would have led to “torrential haemorrhage and death”, despite emergency medical treatment at the scene.
Mr Merritt also received a large slash to his right upper arm, roughly 18cm wide and 17cm deep, which would have bled “freely and copiously”, he said.
The tip of the little finger on his right hand was also sliced off, the pathologist said.
Dr Fegan-Earl added: “It was clear that Mr Merritt had sustained multiple stab and slash wounds, which in my view were indicative of a dynamic assault with significant defensive posturing.
“What I mean by that is, an individual who is assaulted with a knife, if they are capable of anticipating a blow, the natural reaction is to raise the arm to defend themselves.”
Ms Jones had one injury, a stab wound just above the collarbone on her right-hand side, measuring 5cm wide and 10cm deep, which passed through the upper lobe of the right lung.
The pathologist gave the cause of death for both victims as shock – the organs not being supplied with blood and oxygen – and haemorrhage.
Both victims were described as being fit and well at the time they were killed.
Khan, 28, from Stafford in the West Midlands, had armed himself with knives and a fake suicide belt when he launched his attack, 11 months after his release from prison, where he took Learning Together courses, including in creative writing.
He was later pursued to nearby London Bridge by three people who had been attending the conference, who were trying to tackle him with a fire extinguisher and a narwhal tusk.
The men pinned him to the ground before police opened fire. An inquest into Khan’s death will open once the hearings relating to Mr Merritt and Ms Jones conclude.