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London Bridge survivor: ‘I saw things I will never unsee’

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Media captionBryonn Bain was giving a workshop at Fishmongers’ Hall when the attack began

An American academic has given a graphic account of the moment the London Bridge stabbing attack began, saying it “felt like a warzone”.

Bryonn Bain told the BBC that victim Jack Merritt had been the first person to confront Usman Khan when he launched his knife assault during a prisoner rehabilitation conference on Friday.

“I saw people die, I saw things that I will never be able to unsee,” he said.

Vigils have taken place for Mr Merritt, 25, and second victim Saskia Jones, 23.

Three other people were also injured in the attack before Khan was shot dead by armed officers on London Bridge – two are still in hospital in a stable condition.

Prof Bain said former offenders attending the University of Cambridge-linked conference “stepped up and intervened” to tackle Khan, and people at Fishmongers’ Hall owed their lives to the actions of those who had previously spent time in jail.

He said two men from his performance poetry workshop immediately ran towards shouts from elsewhere in Fishmongers’ Hall in the City of London as the attack began, and as shouts grew louder he also went to assist.

“That’s when I ran down and saw the scene unfolding there,” he said. “I was able to see the attacker.”

He added: “It felt like a warzone… it felt like total chaos.”

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Media captionThe chief executive of Fishmongers Hall, Commodore Toby Williamson describes how his staff fought back

Prof Bain said course co-ordinator Mr Merritt was “the first line of defence”.

“I want to honour him,” Prof Bain said of Mr Merritt. “I want to honour his father’s wishes which have been explicit to not have his life be used for political purposes to ramp up draconian policies, because that’s not what he was about.”

Mr Merritt’s father criticised newspaper coverage of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to review the early release of convicted terrorists.

Writing in the Guardian, David Merritt says his son “would be seething at his death, and his life, being used to perpetuate an agenda of hate that he gave his everything fighting against”.

The article calls for a justice system that focuses on rehabilitation, rather than revenge, and criticises indeterminate sentences, saying his son worked for “a world where we do not lock up and throw away the key”.

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Met Police

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Jack Merritt was a co-ordinator of the Learning Together programme and Saskia Jones a volunteer

Prof Bain added: “I want to make sure that as much as possible that we uphold the heroes of the day, were formerly incarcerated people, some of the folks who are often easiest to dehumanise.

“They stepped up and many of the folks in that space would not be here today if it weren’t for these guys who did time in prison and literally saved lives.”

In other developments on Monday:

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his response to the attack after Mr Merritt’s father criticised newspaper coverage of Mr Johnson’s pledge to review the early release of convicted terrorists
  • Mr Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attended a vigil at the Guildhall near London Bridge to honour those caught up in the attack
  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the best way to defeat the hatred shown in the attack was to focus on the values of hope, unity and love
  • BBC News learned the attacker, Usman Khan, 28, had been under investigation by the security service MI5 since his release from prison last year, but given one of the lowest priorities. He had been convicted of a terrorism offence in 2012
  • As part of his release conditions, Khan was obliged to take part in the government’s desistance and disengagement programme – which aims to rehabilitate those involved in terrorism

Vigils for the victims of the attack were also held in Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University, which Ms Jones had previously attended.

Mr Merritt and Ms Jones both studied for masters degrees at the University of Cambridge’s institute of criminology and had been taking part in an event for its Learning Together programme – which focuses on education within the criminal justice system – when they were killed.

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The family of Jack Merritt take part in a vigil at the Guildhall in Cambridge

Mr Merritt, from Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, was a co-ordinator of the Learning Together programme and Ms Jones, from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, a volunteer

The victims’ families paid tribute to their loved ones at the weekend.

Ms Jones’s family said their daughter had a “great passion” for supporting victims of criminal justice.

In a statement, Mr Merritt’s family described him as a “talented boy” who “died doing what he loved”.

Toby Williamson, chief executive of Fishmongers’ Hall, praised the bravery of his staff who intervened to stop the attacker, hailing their actions as “extraordinary things done by ordinary people”.

Mr Williamson told how Polish chef Lukasz suffered five wounds to his left-hand side as he fended off the knifeman with a narwhal tusk during “about a minute of one-on-one straight combat” – allowing others time to escape danger.

A group of hall staff, ex-offenders, prison and probation staff are believed to have drawn Khan out on to London Bridge where he was subsequently shot dead by armed police.

‘Minimal risk’

Khan, who admitted preparing terrorist acts in 2012, was released from prison in December 2018 after serving half of his sentence.

The BBC understands Khan was formally under investigation by MI5 as he left jail but placed in the second-to-bottom category of investigations as his initial risk to the public was thought to be minimal.

This was consistent with the grading given to most other people convicted of terrorism offences as they go back into the community under a release licence.

A low level of prioritisation is assigned to offenders such as Khan because their release comes with a strict set of licence conditions.

These conditions theoretically provide suitable monitoring and oversight, such as alerts if they contact other suspects or travel outside an approved area.

Khan, the BBC has learned, was on the highest-level of such community monitoring. The overall package, in theory, relieves pressure on MI5 so the security service can focus on more immediate threats.

Friday was the first time that Khan, who wore a GPS tag, had been permitted to travel to London since he left prison. The BBC has been told that – earlier in the year – Khan was refused permission to travel to Stoke-on-Trent, which is where he grew up, in order to attend a social event.

The prime minister said on Sunday that 74 people jailed for terror offences and released early would have their licence conditions reviewed..

Police said two terror-related arrests following Friday’s incident, in Staffordshire and north London, were not directly connected to the London Bridge attack.

It came after the UK’s terrorism threat level was downgraded on 4 November from “severe” to “substantial”, meaning that attacks were thought to be “likely” rather than “highly likely”.

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Fulham v Derby County – BBC Sport

Aboubakar Kamara scored two goals for Fulham against QPR on Friday as he made his first league start since the opening day of the Championship season
Follow live text coverage from 19:00 GMT on Tuesday

Fulham’s top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic is available to return for the visit of Derby County after serving a ban.

Aboubakar Kamara, who scored two goals in Friday’s win over QPR while deputising for the Serb, may drop out.

Derby will check on midfielder Graeme Shinnie (hamstring) and forward Mason Bennett (ankle), who were both forced off during their win over Preston.

Matt Clarke, Scott Malone and Tom Huddlestone (all knee) and Ikechi Anya (calf) remain sidelined.

Match facts

  • Fulham have lost just one of their past 14 home league matches against Derby County (W7 D6 L1), a 1-0 defeat in April 1969.
  • Six of the past seven league meetings between Fulham and Derby at Craven Cottage have ended as draws.
  • Fulham have a higher possession figure (66.6%) and high percentage of short passes (90.2%) than any other team in the Championship this season.
  • Derby have not lost four consecutive away league matches since March 2017 under Steve McClaren.
  • Fulham striker Aboubakar Kamara has scored doubles in each of his last two Championship starts at Craven Cottage, doing so in January 2018 against Ipswich and in their last home game against QPR.
  • Derby have won none of their past 11 away league visits to London (D7 L4) with their last win in the capital in December 2016 away at QPR.



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Jodie Chesney: Two teens jailed for murder

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Media captionDetective Inspector Perry Benton explains how the Met Police pieced together evidence to catch Jodie’s killers

Two teenagers have been jailed for life for murdering a 17-year-old girl in an east London park.

Jodie Chesney was stabbed in the back as she sat with friends in Harold Hill on 1 March.

Svenson Ong-a-Kwie, 19, and Arron Isaacs, 17, of Barking, were both convicted earlier this month after a trial at the Old Bailey.

Ong-a-Kwie, of Romford, will serve a minimum of 26 years while Isaacs was detained for at least 18 years.

Explaining the sentences, Judge Wendy Joseph QC told the court she was “satisfied” Ong-a-Kwie had stabbed Jodie while Isaacs was a “willing supporter”.

“When that knife was driven into Jodie, that intention was to kill,” she said.

She added that her death “was part of a series of tit-for-tat attacks” which had been “increasing in ferocity”, and “although the target was not Jodie… there was a degree of planning”.

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Svenson Ong-a-Kwie (l) and Arron Isaacs (r) were both found guilty of Jodie’s murder

During the trial, each of the defendants blamed each other for the attack but a jury took less than six hours to find them both guilty of murder.

In an impact statement read before sentencing, Jodie’s father Peter Chesney said the death of his daughter “has destroyed my life”.

The 39-year-old, who was not in court, described how a year ago he had started a new job as a salesman in the City “and I was about to take over the world in a promising career.

“Now I sit here in the cabin in my garden writing this statement. I have left that job, the relationship with my wife has fallen apart and we are now getting divorced. I must sell my house, and above all, I have lost the most precious human being I will ever know,” he said.

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The 17-year-old was stabbed once in the back while she was socialising with friends in Amy’s Park

Following the stabbing, Jodie collapsed into the arms of her boyfriend Eddie Coyle who told the court he had been “completely changed” by the events of that night.

“I find it hard to sleep most of the time. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD from this, and it keeps me up most nights so I don’t sleep,” he said.

The court had heard drug dealer Ong-a-Kwie and his runner Isaacs had been looking to take revenge on rivals but had killed Jodie by mistake.

She had been socialising with friends that evening when two figures emerged out of the dark and one plunged a knife in her back.

The two defendants fled in another drug dealer’s car but were arrested together days later as they fled from a house linked to Isaacs, the jury were told.

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Jodie Chesney was an active Scout member who was described as “one of our brightest and best” by chief scout Bear Grylls

Ong-a-Kwie had convictions for possessing and supplying drugs and had admitted being in breach of a six-week suspended sentence for handling stolen jewellery.

Two other people – Manuel Petrovic, 20, of Romford, and a 16-year-old boy – were both cleared of murder and manslaughter.

Met Police officer Det Insp Perry Benton described the investigation as “one of the hardest I’ve ever dealt with”, adding that the defendants “have shown no remorse from day one”.

Speaking following the sentencing, Jodie’s uncle Terry Chesney said the family were “happy” with the jail terms and would now “try” to get on with their lives.

“Today was justice. We’ll never get her back, but we’ve got justice,” he said.

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Granit Xhaka: Arsenal midfielder hurt by ‘hostile’ criticism

Granit Xhaka reacted angrily to the Arsenal fans when he was substituted against Crystal Palace last month

Granit Xhaka says he has been hurt by the “extreme hostility” directed towards him from Arsenal supporters, but has promised to prove his worth.

Xhaka, 27, was stripped of the club captaincy after being involved in an angry confrontation with home fans during the Gunners’ 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on 27 October.

The Switzerland midfielder has not played for the club since.

“It was very hurtful and frustrating,” Xhaka told Swiss newspaper Blick