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London Bridge terror victims died after being stabbed in chest, inquest told

Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt were killed by convicted terrorist Usman Khan

Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones
Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones

By Emily Pennink, PA

London Bridge terror attack victims Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt both died after suffering a stab wound to the chest, an inquest has heard.

Cambridge University graduates Ms Jones, 23, and Mr Merritt, 25, were attacked during a prisoner rehabilitation event at Fishmongers’ Hall last Friday afternoon.

Convicted terrorist Usman Khan, 28, who was living in Stafford, was later identified as their killer.

Armed with two knives and wearing a fake suicide vest, he was tackled by members of the public, including ex-offenders from the conference, before he was shot dead by police.

He died from “multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen” and “shock and haemorrhage”, a separate inquest hearing was told.

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Tributes to Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones on London Bridge

On Wednesday, City of London senior coroner Alison Hewitt opened and adjourned inquests into the victims’ deaths at the Old Bailey.

The court heard Ms Jones had graduated from Cambridge University in the summer of 2018 with a master’s in criminology and had applied to join West Midlands Police.

She was said to be “passionate about victim support” and planned to use her role in the police to further her PhD at Oxford University.

Mr Merritt also had a master’s degree in criminology at Cambridge having already completed a law degree at Manchester University.

Both Ms Jones and Mr Merritt had been at the Fishmongers’ Hall event when they were stabbed, the hearing was told.

Detective Superintendent Des McHugh said: “On Friday November 29 2019 an event was held at Fishmonger’s Hall, London Bridge.

“At 1.58pm police were contacted with reports that a male was attacking delegates at the event within Fishmongers’ Hall.

“Armed officers attended the scene. Upon their arrival the male had left the building and was being restrained on London Bridge by several members of the public. The male was subsequently shot by police.”

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Flowers at London Bridge

Ms Jones was pronounced dead at 2.25pm, the court heard.

Mr Merritt was moved from the scene to nearby King William Street where he was pronounced dead at 3.14pm, despite efforts to save him.

Post-mortem examinations found Mr Merritt and Ms Jones died from “shock and haemorrhaging” and a “stab wound to the chest”, the Metropolitan Police officer said.

Mr Merritt, from Cottenham, near Cambridge, was a co-ordinator for Learning Together, a programme associated with Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology.

Miss Jones, from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, was a volunteer for the programme which aims to bring offenders and people in higher education to study alongside each other.

Three more people were injured in the attack, two of whom are said to remain in a stable condition in hospital while the third has returned home.

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A notice board displaying the words “together we stand”, following the London Bridge terror attack

In the separate hearing, Detective Superintendent McHugh confirmed Khan was a 28-year-old British National from the Stafford area.

He told the court Khan was convicted of an offence contrary to Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006 of engaging in conduct in preparation for terrorist acts on October 7 2011.

He was released from Woodhill Prison on December 24 2018 and subject to a counter-terrorism notification order.

Khan joined the Learning Together programme towards the end of his sentence and attended the event at Fishmonger’s Hall to take part in group workshops, the court heard.

He was shot on London Bridge, having been restrained by members of the public, the officer said.

Khan was pronounced dead on the bridge at 3.07pm, the court heard.

Ms Hewitt confirmed Chief Coroner for England and Wales, Mark Lucraft QC, would hear the full inquests into the deaths of Ms Jones and Mr Merritt and Khan on dates to be fixed.

The fresh inquests come just months after the conclusion of the Old Bailey inquests into the deaths of eight innocent people during the 2017 London Bridge terror attack.

PA

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