Britain

‘Sad beyond words’: Tributes paid to London Bridge attack victims

Tributes have been paid to the two University of Cambridge graduates who were killed in the London Bridge terror attack.

Saskia Jones, 23, and 25-year-old Jack Merritt were both involved in the prisoner rehabilitation conference where convicted terrorist Usman Khan launched his deadly rampage on Friday.

Mr Merrritt was a coordinator at the Learning Together initiative, which organised the event, while Ms Jones was a volunteer with the programme.

Image: Saskia Jones was a volunteer at the Learning Together event

Following her death, the family of Ms Jones, from Stratford-upon-Avon, said she was a "funny, kind, positive influence at the centre of many people's lives".

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

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"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.

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"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."

Saskia Jones
Image: Saskia Jones was described as a 'funny, kind, positive influence'

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

His family said he was an "intelligent, thoughtful and empathetic person who was looking forward to building a future with his girlfriend Leanne". They warned against politicising the attack.

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

Jack Merritt pictured with his girlfriend Leanne
Image: Jack Merritt pictured with his girlfriend Leanne

"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."

Mr Merritt's father David described his son as a "beautiful spirit".

Rapper Dave said Mr Merritt was "the best guy" and the news of his death was "one of the most painful things".

The musician's Mercury Prize-winning album was inspired by the rehabilitation therapy his brother Christopher received while serving a life sentence for murder.

Jack Merritt
Image: Jack Merritt was described as a 'beautiful spirit'

Dave said Mr Merritt had "dedicated his life to helping others" and it was "genuinely an honour to have met someone like you".

Mr Merritt had written a dissertation at university which analysed the over-representation of black, Asian and ethnic minority men aged 18 to 21 in the British prison system.

He studied law at the University of Manchester before attending the University of Cambridge from 2016 to 2017.

Meanwhile, Ms Jones had written an essay published online which considered how victims of sexual violence were "silenced through the very mechanisms that claim to protect them".

Jack Merritt has been named as a victim of the London Bridge attack. Pic: Facebook
Image: Jack Merritt wrote a dissertation on the over-representation of ethnic minorities in British prisons

Professor Stephen J Toope, vice chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said he was "sad beyond words" to confirm the deaths of the two former students.

Prof Toope said the Learning Together event should have been a "joyous opportunity to celebrate the achievements of this unique and socially transformative programme&quotRead More – Source