London Bridge attack: Girlfriend pays tribute to 'phenomenal' Jack Merritt
3 December 2019, 09:19 | Updated: 3 December 2019, 17:24
The girlfriend of London Bridge terror attack victim Jack Merritt has described him as a "phenomenal man" who "opened so many doors for those that society turned their backs on".
Leanne O'Brien paid tribute to the 25-year-old in a message on Facebook, writing: "My love, you are phenomenal and have opened so many doors for those that society turned their backs on."
She added: "Together, we will make a difference."
Mr Merritt and fellow Cambridge University graduate Saskia Jones, 23, were both stabbed to death by convicted terrorist Usman Khan during a prisoner rehabilitation event at Fishmonger's Hall last Friday.
Friends and family gathered to pay tribute to the pair at a service in the city on Monday, where Ms O'Brien was seen being comforted after breaking down in tears.
Her Facebook post came after The Guardian published a memorial article written by Mr Merritt's father.
David Merritt said his son would have been "livid" at how his death has been used to "perpetuate an agenda of hate", amid criticism of the prime minister for politicising the tragedy.
Boris Johnson has been condemned for appearing to blame the incident on sentencing laws that allowed Khan to be released halfway through a 16-year jail term for plotting to blow up the London Stock Exchange.
The 28-year-old, who was armed with two knives and a fake suicide vest when he launched his deadly attack last week, had his sentence quashed at the Court of Appeal in April 2013.
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Khan was given a determinate 16-year jail term, with a five-year extended licence period, which meant he was automatically released halfway through the sentence.
The law changed in 2012 - and if Khan was given the same sentence today, he would have had to serve at least two-thirds of the term and would only be released if the Parole Board agreed.
Mr Johnson has said "too many people are released automatically on to our streets and we need to address that".
Jack Merritt was a co-ordinator for Learning Together, a programme aimed at bringing offenders and people in higher education to "study alongside each other".
Miss Jones, from Statford-upon-Avon, was a volunteer on the programme and 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."
Dr Amy Ludlow, co-organiser of Learning Together, has said she is "grateful for the many messages" that her organisation has received and called the events on Friday "heartbreaking".
In an automated email to those contacting her, she said the organisation will continue to "stand together with our community in love, hope and solidarity".
She wrote: "It is impossible to respond to every email sent to us at the moment but please know that we appreciate everyone's care at such a devastating time and we stand together with our community in love, hope and solidarity."
The death toll from last week's attack could have been higher but for the actions of a number of bystanders.
Sky News has been told of the extraordinary account of Lukasz, who was working in the basement at Fishmongers' Hall when the attack began.
Fishmongers' Hall chief executive Toby Williamson hailed his colleague, who fought the terrorist "until the end" to buy time for others to escape - despite being stabbed five times.
Others who tackled Khan included a man who sprayed the terrorist with a fire extinguisher and a tour company manager who tried to force him to release one of his knives by stamping on his wrist.
(c) Sky News 2019: London Bridge attack: Girlfriend pays tribute to 'phenomenal' Jack Merritt