Woman killed in London Bridge terror attack named as 23-year-old Saskia Jones

Sunday 1st December 2019 17:30 GMT

The 23-year-old from Stratford-upon-Avon and fellow Cambridge graduate Jack Merritt died in Friday's attack by convicted terrorist Usman Khan.

Mr Merrritt was a coordinator at the Learning Together initiative, which organised the prisoner rehabilitation conference where Khan began his deadly rampage, while Ms Jones was a volunteer with the programme.

In a tribute issued on Sunday, Ms Jones' family said she had a "wonderful thirst for knowledge" and was a "funny, kind, positive influence at the centre of many people's lives".

They also revealed she had applied for a police graduate recruitment programme and planned to specialise in victim support.

"She had a wonderful sense of mischievous fun and was generous to the point of always wanting to see the best in all people", Ms Jones' 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.

"This is an extremely painful time for the family. Saskia will leave a huge void in our lives and we would request that our privacy is fully respected."

Mr Merritt was named on Saturday as a victim of the terror attack as tributes poured in for the 25-year-old.

In a statement on Sunday, his family said he was an "intelligent, thoughtful and empathetic person who was looking forward to building a future with his girlfriend Leanne".

"Jack lived his principles; he believed in redemption and rehabilitation, not revenge, and he always took the side of the underdog," the family added.

"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."

Professor Stephen J Toope, vice chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said he was "sad beyond words" to confirm the deaths and revealed that a member of staff at the institution was also among three people injured in the stabbing spree.

He said: "Our university condemns this abhorrent and senseless act of terror."

Prof Toope said the Learning Together event at Fishmongers' Hall should have been a "joyous opportunity to celebrate the achievements of this unique and socially transformative programme" but was instead "disrupted by an unspeakable criminal act".

The director of the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge - where both Mr Merritt and Ms Jones completed masters degrees - also paid tribute to the former students.

Professor Loraine R Gelsthorpe said Ms Jones had "extraordinary intellectual creativity" and a "strong belief that people who have committed criminal offences should have opportunities for rehabilitation".

She added that Mr Merritt's "passion for social and criminal justice was infectious" and he "worked tirelessly in dark places to pull towards the light".

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, the medical director for the NHS in London said.

A line of police officers were seen on their hands and knees performing fingertip searches on London Bridge on Sunday, which remained closed with vehicles and buses still stranded.

Khan was wearing an electronic tag when he launched his attack after being released halfway through a 16-year prison sentence last December over a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange.

He was tackled by several members of the public - including ex-offenders and an off-duty policeman - before he was shot dead by officers on London Bridge.

The 28-year-old, who was a student and personal friend of the Islamist extremist Anjem Choudary, was given permission to travel into central London on Friday by police and the probation service.

He had also been allowed to travel to Whitehall earlier in the year.

Police have been searching a three-storey block of flats in Wolverhampton Road in Stafford, where Khan is believed to have been staying, and another property in Stoke-on-Trent, where he had also been based.

The attack has prompted the Ministry of Justice to review the licence conditions of every convicted terrorist released from prison, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson says is "probably about 74" people.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told Sky's Sophy Ridge there were lessons to be learned from the incident and there should be a "full investigation" into the circumstances around the attacker's prison sentence and subsequent release.

He added that convicted terrorists should "not necessarily" serve their full jail terms.

No-one else is being sought over the London Bridge attack.

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