First London terror victim identified

 

A heartbroken dad today revealed his son was one of the victims killed in the London Bridge terror attack.

Jack Merritt, 25, was remembered as a "beautiful spirit" after he and a woman were killed in the knife rampage on Friday afternoon.

Jack was a course counsellor for Learning Together, which was hosting the event at Fishmongers' Hall in central London when terrorist Usman Khan, 28, unleashed his horror attack while wearing a fake suicide jacket.

A few weeks before he was killed, Jack had celebrated his birthday in Seville, Spain, with girlfriend Leanne O’Brien. Picture: Supplied.
A few weeks before he was killed, Jack had celebrated his birthday in Seville, Spain, with girlfriend Leanne O’Brien. Picture: Supplied.

Khan had just been released from prison in December last year after being convicted of terrorism offences.

He had previously participated in Cambridge University's Learning Together prisoner rehabilitation program but had showed "no cause for concern", a source with knowledge of the program told AAP.

Grieving dad David Merritt today paid tribute to his son as a "beautiful spirit".

Writing on Twitter, he said: "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.

"R.I.P. Jack: you were a beautiful spirit who always took the side of the underdog."

Jack Merritt’s father David praised his son for his work with previous offenders through the University of Cambridge. Picture: Supplied.
Jack Merritt’s father David praised his son for his work with previous offenders through the University of Cambridge. Picture: Supplied.

He said his son had been a "champion" for those who had "dealt a losing hand by life, who ended up in the prison system".

David added the Cambridge community was in "shock" after the attack, which left two dead and another three people injured. Two now stable and a third with less serious injuries.

He has since deleted the tweets.

In the wake of the tragic news, friends also shared tributes to Jack.

One wrote: "David, I knew your son through Learning Together & I loved him to pieces - he was the sweetest, most caring and selfless individual I've ever met.

"The warmest heart, always with time for anyone. Completely irreplaceable - I will mourn his loss greatly and honour his memory xxxx"

“The warmest heart”: Tributes roll in for Jack Merritt. Picture: Supplied.
“The warmest heart”: Tributes roll in for Jack Merritt. Picture: Supplied.

Grieving neighbours remembered Jack as "such a fine young man" who "devoted his life to helping others less fortunate than himself."

Neighbour Dawn Marr, 80, who used to babysit him and younger brother Joe, said: "This is tragic. I just can't believe it and I'm totally shocked.

"He was such a fine young man and his father was very proud of him.

"He still lived at home and had a cat he loved called Bubbles."

Another neighbour in close knit Cottenham on the outskirts of Cambridge said: "It is devastating and the community will greatly feel his loss. He was a very socially aware man who devoted his life to helping others less fortunate than himself."

A vigil for the two victims was held at Great St Mary's Church in Cambridge.

“A fine young man”: Jack’s community have remembered the 25-year-old student for his hard work “helping others less fortunate than himself”.
“A fine young man”: Jack’s community have remembered the 25-year-old student for his hard work “helping others less fortunate than himself”.

Jack was the course co-ordinator for Learning Together, described as "bringing students in Higher Education & Criminal Justice institutions together in transformative learning communities".

As part of the Learning Together program, students based at the University of Cambridge and students based in prison studied together on university-level courses.

The aim was to form connections that "make society more inclusive and safer by reducing reoffending".

Jack had previously studied law at the University of Manchester and went on to undergo further studies at Cambridge.

The London Bridge attacker, Usman Khan, 28, was tackled by ex-offenders who had been invited to the conference for rehabilitation after he started "lashing out", it has emerged.

Khan was tackled by other former offenders, including a murderer, who had been invited to a conference on rehabilitation, after he started "lashing out", it has emerged.

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.

Usman Khan had been invited to the Learning Together event in central London. Picture: West Midlands Police via AP.
Usman Khan had been invited to the Learning Together event in central London. Picture: West Midlands Police via AP.

Khan, the terrorist who killed two people at London Bridge and injured several others, had a string of previous terror offences.

The 28-year-old, who was shot dead by police, had previously been jailed for his role in the Stock Exchange terror plot which was disrupted by British security officials.

Khan was just a teenager when he was first recognised by security services, after he joined a group of men who preached a radical interpretation of Islam.

This attack took place under a year after he was released from prison.

Bystanders who brought down Usman Khan were other ex-cons invited to the Learning Together event, it is understood. Picture: Ketts News.
Bystanders who brought down Usman Khan were other ex-cons invited to the Learning Together event, it is understood. Picture: Ketts News.

Before his stabbing spree, Khan had he threatened to blow up the historic Fishmongers' Hall.

He was wearing a fake suicide vest and had two knives in his possession when he carried out the attack.

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens confirmed two victims had died, with three more seriously injured, one of them critically.

"Our heartfelt thanks go to everyone who responded to this incident, both the extraordinarily brave members of the public and our emergency responders," Mr Stevens said.

"As the Met police have confirmed, sadly two people have died in addition to the suspect. London Ambulance Service treated people at the scene and three were taken to hospital.

"We can confirm that one patient is critical but stable, a second person is in a stable condition and a third person has less serious injuries.

"Our deep sympathies are with the families and all those affected by today's incident."

The second victim, a woman, is yet to be identified.

This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission