Family of terror attacker Khan 'saddened and shocked' by the atrocity

London Bridge terror attacker Usman Khan’s family say they are ‘saddened and shocked’ by the atrocity and ‘totally condemn his actions’

  • Usman Khan went on a deadly knife frenzy in London on Friday at London Bridge
  • He killed Saskia Jones, 23, and 25-year-old Jack Merritt in the deadly rampage
  • Khan’s family said they are ‘saddened and shocked by what Usman has done’

A Metropolitan Police mugshot of convicted terrorist Usman Khan, the man responsible for the London Bridge Terror attack which claimed two lives

The family of London Bridge terror attacker Usman Khan said they are ‘saddened and shocked’ by the atrocity and ‘totally condemn his actions’.

Usman Khan went on a deadly knife frenzy in London on Friday, killing two people and injuring three others. 

In the short statement released through the Metropolitan Police, the family expressed condolences to the two victims of Khan’s violent atrocity, and the others who were injured. 

In a statement released through the Metropolitan Police, the family of Khan said: ‘We are saddened and shocked by what Usman has done.’

‘We totally condemn his actions and we wish to express our condolences to the families of the victims that have died and wish a speedy recovery to all of the injured.

‘We would like to request privacy for our family at this difficult time.’ 

The statement came after the girlfriend of victim Jack Merritt described him as a ‘phenomenal’ man.

Leanne O’Brien posted the message on Facebook after Mr Merritt’s father David attacked politicians for using his son’s death ‘to perpetuate an agenda of hate’.

She wrote of her boyfriend: ‘My love, you are phenomenal and have opened so many doors for those that society turned their backs on.’

Khan (circled) was confronted by several heroic members of the public, including one who used a Narwhal tusk to try and restrain him

Cambridge University graduates Mr Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, were both stabbed to death by 28-year-old convicted terrorist Usman Khan during a prisoner rehabilitation event they were supporting at London’s Fishmongers’ Hall.

On Monday, the family of Mr Merritt gathered to pay tribute to him and Miss Jones at a service in Cambridge, in which Ms O’Brien was seen breaking down in tears.

Later, David Merritt wrote in the Guardian that his son would be ‘livid’ if he could comment on his death.

‘He would be seething at his death, and his life, being used to perpetuate an agenda of hate that he gave his everything fighting against,’ he said.

‘We should never forget that. What Jack would want from this is for all of us to walk through the door he has booted down, in his black Doc Martens.’

Usman Khan, thought to be 15 at the time, interviewed by the BBC outside his house in Stoke-On-Trent

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn (pictured centre and right at a vigil in the capital yesterday)

It came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought to blame Labour for the early release of the convicted terrorist as the political row over the knife attack intensified.

The Prime Minister said Khan, who was freed halfway through a 16-year jail sentence, was on the streets because of laws introduced by a ‘leftie government’.

And in an interview with The Sun on Tuesday Mr Johnson accused Mr Corbyn of backing terror groups and Russia over Britain’s allies in Nato.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab added to the argument on Tuesday, telling BBC Radio 4 Labour ‘wanted to see dangerous offenders released’.

He said: ‘Of course we want to reform and rehabilitate criminal offenders where that’s possible, but I think in this case and in the level of very serious dangerous criminal offenders, it’s clear some of those we will struggle to be sure that we can reform, that they will rehabilitate, and we’re absolutely clear that we will not allow the release of people onto the streets who present a danger, and that separates us from Jeremy Corbyn, who’s made clear that he would be willing to see those sorts of dangerous offenders released.’

Former University of Cambridge students Saskia Jones, 23, (left) and Mr Merritt, 25, (right) were fatally stabbed on Friday

Tributes on London Bridge in the aftermath of the horrendous terror attack 

The family of Jack Merritt including his father David (centre) took part in a vigil at the Guildhall in Cambridge yesterday 

Khan, who was living in Stafford, was given permission to travel into the heart of London by police and the Probation Service.

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.

One of the three people injured in the attack has been allowed to return home while the other two remain in a stable condition in hospital.

Mr Merritt, from Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, was a co-ordinator for Learning Together, a programme associated with Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology which is aimed at bringing offenders and people in higher education to ‘study alongside each other’.

Miss Jones, a volunteer on the programme from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, was described as having ‘great passion’ for providing support to victims of crime by her family.

In a statement they said: ‘She was intent on living life to the full and had a wonderful thirst for knowledge, enabling her to be the best she could be.’

Jack Merritt (pictured centre) was one of the victims of the London Bridge terror attack. His father David (left) has condemned politicisation of the attack 

Why was Usman Khan freed from jail? How terrorist was released after serving eight years for plotting to blow up the Stock Exchange 

When was Khan jailed and for how long?

Khan was given an open-ended jail term – known as an ‘imprisonment for public protection’, or IPP – in January 2012 at Woolwich Crown Court after pleading guilty to one count of ‘engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism’. The sentencing judge Mr Justice Wilkie specified a minimum custodial term of eight years. But to secure his freedom, Khan would have to convince the Parole Board that he no longer posed a risk.

What happened then?

In an appeal in March 2013, Khan’s lawyers won their case – and he was given a term with a definitive end point. The need for Khan’s release to be approved by the Parole Board was also dropped. Appeal judges imposed an extended sentence of 21 years which comprised a custodial element of 16 years and a five-year ‘extension period’. The 16-year custodial element meant he was eligible for release at the halfway point – eight years.

Why is only half of a sentence served?

It has been a convention since the 1960s that half of a term is served in prisons. The rest of a sentence is served ‘on licence’, when an offender can be quickly sent back to jail if they fail to behave.

When was Khan finally freed?

The Parole Board was quick to point out after Friday’s attack that Khan’s release was not referred to them – he was automatically released at the halfway point. He remained on ‘extended licence’ and had to report to police and probation officers, wear a GPS electronic tag and fulfil other requirements.

How did laws passed by a former Labour government affect the Court of Appeal’s options?

PM Boris Johnson has said Khan had to be ‘automatically released half-way through’ because of changes Labour made in 2008 to Extended Sentences for Public Protection or EPPs. This is correct.

Until 2008, anyone on an EPP had to have their release approved by the Parole Board. If they were refused, the board could keep them in jail up to the end of their custodial period, which in Khan’s case was 16 years.

But in mid-2008, Labour made release automatic halfway through.However, the Court of Appeal could potentially have upheld the original IPP sentence.

How can ministers toughen up the sentencing of terrorists?

Khan’s atrocity has reignited debate over whether there is now a case to remove entitlement to early release for convicted terrorists.

PM Boris Johnson has already said they should be made to serve ‘every day’ of their terms. Some important steps have already been taken.

Extended Determinate Sentences (EDS), brought in in 2012, only allow convicted terrorists to apply for parole two-thirds through their sentence, with no automatic entitlement for release.

The Counter Terrorism and Border Security Act, which won Royal Assent in February, toughens jail terms for a range of offences and – crucially –makes it easier to keep terror suspects behind bars beyond the halfway point. It extended two types of sentence – the EDS and Sentences for Offenders of Particular Concern (SOPC) – to a number of middle-ranking terror offences.

A clearer structure could set out underlining principles such as whether early release is allowed, and whether the Parole Board or ministers should approve any release before it takes place rather than it taking place automatically.

A clearer structure would help underline how the justice system should deal with terrorists.

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