TWO Cambridge University graduates killed in the London Bridge terror attack died trying to improve peoples’ lives.
The families of Saskia Jones, 23, and Jack Merritt, 25, paid tribute to their passion for criminal justice after police formally identified them as the victims of the knife rampage on Friday.
It is believed convicted terrorist Usman Khan, freed from jail last December, deliberately targeted a university event highlighting prisoner rehabilitation he had been invited to attend at Fishmongers’ Hall next to the bridge.
Khan, 28, with knives strapped to his hands, launched his murderous attack shortly before 2pm, was chased out of the building by brave staff and former offenders, tackled to the ground and then shot dead by police. Relatives said Saskia was a ‘funny, kind, positive influence at the centre of many people’s lives’.
In a statement her family said: ‘She was always wanting to see the best in all people.’ She ‘had a great passion for providing invaluable support to victims of criminal injustice’ and had applied to the police graduate recruitment programme, to specialise in victim support.
Saskia, from Stratford-upon-Avon, had been a volunteer at the event, held to mark five years of the university’s Institute of Criminology Learning Together programme, which focuses on prisoner rehabilitation. Jack, of Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, was the course co-ordinator. A family statement said he ‘lived his principles — he believed in redemption and rehabilitation, not revenge, and he always took the side of the underdog’.
Following Boris Johnson’s call for tougher sentences, they added: ‘Jack would not want this terrible, isolated incident to be used as a pretext for introducing even more draconian sentences or for detaining people in prison for longer than necessary.’
The family said he had been looking forward to building a future with his girlfriend, veterinary science student Leanne O’Brien who was said to be ‘beside herself’ over his death.
University vice-chancellor Prof Stephen Toope said he was devastated at the tragedy and that a member of staff was also hurt but survived.