instagram envelope_alt facebook twitter search youtube_play whatsapp remove external_link loop2 arrow-down2

Vigils held for victims of London Bridge terror attack

Mourning: Leanne O'Brien (front, third-right), the girlfriend of Jack Merritt, is comforted by family members during a vigil at The Guildhall in Cambridge to honour both him and Saskia Jones PICTURES: PA

THE girlfriend of London Bridge terror victim Jack Merritt broke down in tears as she attended a vigil in his memory in Cambridge today.

Leanne O’Brien wept and clutched a cuddly toy as she was supported by family and friends at the event, which also honoured fellow Cambridge graduate Saskia Jones.

Mr Merritt, 25, and Miss Jones, 23, were both stabbed by 28-year-old convicted terrorist Usman Khan during a prisoner rehabilitation event they were supporting in London on Friday.

Respect: The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (left), Boris Johnson (centre) and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (right)

The Cambridge vigil took place as Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn stood side-by-side to pay their respects at a separate event at Guildhall Yard in London, observing a minute’s silence alongside members of the public.

The pair were joined by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who called for people to come together following the killings and work for a future ‘not defined by hatred but defined by hope, unity and love’.

The vigils took place as West Midlands Police said a 34-year-old man arrested in Stoke-on-Trent on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts had been recalled to prison due to a breach of his licence conditions.

United: Tributes placed by the Faiths Forum for London on London Bridge

He has been named in reports as Nazam Hussain, who was jailed with Usman in 2012 for terrorism offences, and like Usman had been released early on licence after successfully appealing against his original indeterminate sentence.

Officers from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit held him after a search of his home on Saturday.

The force has said there is no information to suggest he was involved in Khan’s attack at London Bridge.

Victims: Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones PICTURE: GETTY

Officers have been searching a home in Lindley Street, Stoke, today as part of the West Midlands Counter Terrorism investigation.

A resident, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘I saw the man who lived there on the first day he arrived.

‘He’s been there two months. He had a prison bag with him on the day he arrived and he met with two CID, so I knew it was something serious.

‘The police have certainly been there since yesterday, possibly before.’

Khan, 28, also from Stoke, was on licence and wearing an electronic monitoring tag when he launched the attack, which injured three others, after he was invited to the prisoner rehabilitation conference on Friday afternoon.

Investigation: Police officers search a property in Stoke-on-Trent in connection with the London Bridge terrorist attack

The event was organised by Learning Together, a programme associated with Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology.

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 said was ‘probably about 74’ people.

Mr Johnson has vowed to take steps to ensure people are not released early when they commit serious offences.

But the family of Mr Merritt, from Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, asked that his death not be used to justify introducing ‘even more draconian sentences’ on offenders in a heartfelt tribute released on Sunday.

They said: ‘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.’

And in a tweet on Sunday evening, Mr Merritt’s father David said: ‘Don’t use my son’s death, and his and his colleague’s photos — to promote your vile propaganda.

‘Jack stood against everything you stand for — hatred, division, ignorance.’

Miss Jones, a volunteer with Learning Together from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, was described as having a ‘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.’

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, halfway through his 16-year prison sentence.

He launched the fatal attack at the Learning Together event just before 2pm on Friday.

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.

No-one else is being sought over the attack.