'They will leave a huge void': Families of London Bridge victims pay tribute to loved ones

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson

Families of the two young people killed during the London Bridge terror attack have paid tribute to their loved ones and revealed they were both starting careers aimed at reforming the criminal justice system.

University of Cambridge graduates Saskia Jones, 23, and Jack Merritt, 25, were both killed by Usman Khan on Friday afternoon.

The former students were attending a prisoner rehabilitation conference, organised by the University of Cambridge's criminology department, at Fishmongers' Hall near London Bridge when they were attacked.

Khan, 28, was on licence and wearing an electronic tag when he launched his violent attack, killing Ms Jones and Mr Meritt and injuring three others.

Miss Jones, from Stratford-upon-Avon, was a volunteer at the event and was described as having a "great passion" for helping victims of crime.

In a statement, her family 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.

“Saskia had a great passion for providing invaluable support to victims of criminal injustice, which led her to the point of recently applying for the police graduate recruitment programme, wishing to specialise in victim support.”

Saskia Jones was a volunteer at the event and was described as having a 'great passion' for helping victims of crime. Credit: Met Police/PA

The 23-year-old's family said her death "will leave a huge void in our lives".

Mr Merritt, from Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, died "doing what he loved", his family said.

The 25-year-old's family added that the university graduate was looking forward to pursuing a career in criminal justice and building a future with his girlfriend Leanne.

“He lit up our lives and the lives of his many friends and colleagues, and we will miss him terribly,” the statement said.

Jack Merritt was looking forward to pursuing a career in criminal justice and building a future with his girlfriend Leanne. Credit: Met Police/PA

But they asked for his death not to be used to justify introducing “even more draconian sentences” on offenders, after Boris Johnson vowed to take steps to ensure people are not released early when they commit serious offences.

The family statement continued: “Jack lived his principles; he believed in redemption and rehabilitation, not revenge, and he always took the side of the underdog.

“We know Jack would not want this terrible, isolated incident to be used as a pretext by the government for introducing even more draconian sentences on prisoners, or for detaining people in prison for longer than necessary.”

The Ministry of Justice has pledged a review of licence conditions of every convicted terrorist released from prison following the attack.

Mr Merritt was attending a conference on prisoner rehabilitation. Credit: PA

Boris Johnson told BBC One's The Andrew Marr show there was "probably" around 74 terrorists who had been released on licence.

He added other individuals were "being properly invigilated to make sure there is no threat” and called the convicted terrorist’s release from prison “repulsive”.

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

Convicted of terror offences in February 2012, he was released from prison on licence in December 2018 – half-way through his 16-year prison sentence.

Saskia Jones was a former Cambridge University student. Credit: PA

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.

No-one else is being sought over the attack.

Khan was released from prison on licence in December 2018 Credit: BBC News/PA

On Sunday, West Midlands Police said a 34-year-old man in Stoke-on-Trent was arrested following a wider review of existing licence conditions of convicted terrorists.

The man was arrested on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts after a search of the 34-year-old’s home address on Saturday.

Staffordshire Police Deputy Chief Constable Nick Baker said two properties continued to be searched in the county.

Mr Johnson pictured during a visit to the scene Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

The force has said that there is no information to suggest that the arrested man was involved in the incident at London Bridge.

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, Met Police said.