The fire extinguisher hero who dousedLondonBridge attacker Usman Khan is a killer on parole who was friends with the terrorist’s victim Jack Merritt.
Mr Merritt, 25, who was murdered at Fishmongers’ Hall last Friday, would have been immensely proud of John Crilly, his friends and family have revealed.
The 48 – year-old, who is out on license after serving 13 years for manslaughter, pursued Khan from the prisoner’s rehabilitation conference after seeing Mr Merritt stabbed in the chest.
Crilly, a former heroin addict and career criminal, was originally sentenced to life in prison in 2005 after a 71 – year-old pensioner was killed by his accomplice in a botched burglary.
Crilly, who stole a blender and mobile phone, was jaile d by Lord Brian Leveson for murder under the controversial joint enterprise doctrine. Leveson the very same judge who had freed Khan.
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John Crilly (holding his degree certificate) is pictured on his graduation in Manchester with his mentor and ‘the best guy he ever met’ Jack Merrit, 25, who was murdered by Usman Khan last Friday
John Crilly is seen bravely wielding the fire extinguisher at Usman Khan after seeing him stab his friend and mentor Jack Merritt stabbed in the chest
John Crilly is seen bravely going after the jihadist with a fire extinguisher last Friday as another man wields a narwhal tusk
Crilly’s conviction was overturned on appeal and he admitted manslaughter.
Astonishing footage last week showed Crilly and a man with a narwhal tusk leading the charge against Khan, who had also killed Mr Merritt’s colleague Saskia Jones, 23, before the terrorist was shot dead by police.
Crilly, a former heroin addict and career criminal, was originally sentenced to life in prison in 2005 after a pensioner was killed by his accomplice in a botched burglary
Crilly took to Facebook in the aftermath saying: ‘Why !? This guy, Jack Merrit, the best guy I ever met. Jack actually tried helping this guy! To educate him. As he educated me.
‘Jack came all the way from Cambridge to be at my graduation in m / cr (Manchester).’
Mr Merritt and Crilly became friends at the Learning Together scheme at HMP Grendon, Buckinghamshire,The Sunreported.
Mr Merritt’s alma mater, Cambridge University, is connected to the rehabilitation program.
One of Crilly’s friends, Michelle Feather, wrote on Facebook: ‘I honestly think your friend would be proud of you John Crilly for your actions, so many people could have died if it wasn’t for your quick thinking !! Be proud of yourself.
‘You’re a brave man John massive hugs to you !! Would have you by my side any day you deserve a medal. ‘
Another, Michelle Crosby, said:’ You’ve been through such a trauma, your response was heroic.
‘I’m sure your friend would be proud of you. We all are! Such a sh * t world Crilly but you lot took it on n didn’t let him win. ‘
A recent social media picture of John Crilly who was befriended by Mr Merritt through the Learning Together scheme at HMP Grendon, Buckinghamshire
Cambridge graduate Jack Merritt with his girlfriend Leanne O’Brien
Mr Merritt had continued to meet with Crilly following his release and attended the convict’s Law graduation ceremony from the Open University.
Crilly, who has blamed his years of criminality on drug addiction, was able to serve four years at HMP Grendon, which is uniquely based on therapeutic community principles to rehabilitate inmates.
He wrote to Sir Brian Leveson while in prison and the judge took him up on the offer, writing to his fellow judges, ‘In the course of my career, I have visited many prisons but in my 15 years on the bench … I have received precisely one invitation to visit a prison from someone on whom I passed sentence. ‘
Sir Brian’s article, shared byThe Justice Gap, continued: ‘I sentenced him nearly 10 years ago after he was convicted by a jury for his part in a joint enterprise single-punch murder of an elderly home owner during the course of a robbery in which he did not personally use the fatal (or any) force.
‘At the time he was addicted to heroin. Perhaps understandably it has taken many years to come to terms with his guilt but Grendon has helped him do just that. Today, John seems to fully acknowledge responsibility for the death of another human being; he is clear of drugs and appears to be headed in the right direction. ‘
Crilly took to Facebook in the aftermath saying:’ Why !? This guy, Jack Merrit, the best guy I ever met. Jack actually tried helping this guy! To educate him. As he educated me ‘
Jack Merritt (pictured center) was one of the victims of the London Bridge terror attack . His father David (left) has condemned politicization of the attack
Cambridge graduates Saskia Jones, 23, (left) and Mr Merritt, 25 , (right) were fatally stabbed during a prisoner rehabilitation event last Friday
The London Bridge killer Usman Khan was a convicted terrorist who had been a member of an al Qaida-inspired group that plotted to blow up the London Stock Exchange.
The 28 – year-old killed the two Cambridge graduates and injured three other people in his knife rampage before being shot dead, wearing a mock suicide vest, last Friday.
He had been living in Stafford after he was released from prison on license in December 2018.
Khan was charged with conspiracy to cause explosions and other terrorism offences in late December 2010, along with eight others.
On February 1 2012, the nine pleaded guilty to various terrorist offences, with four admitting an al Qaida-inspired plot to detonate a bomb at the London Stock Exchange.
Woolwich Crown Court heard a hand-written target list found on a desk at one of the plotters’ homes also included the names and addresses of the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, then London mayor Boris Johnson, two rabbis, and the American Embassy in London.
Khan and two others, all from Stoke-on-Trent, admitted to a charge of engaging in conduct for the preparation of terrorism between November 1 and December 21 2010 – namely traveling to and attending operational meetings, fundraising for terrorist training, preparing to travel abroad and assisting others in traveling abroad.
Khan killed two and injured three other s before he was shot dead by police on Friday. He had been wearing a mock suicide vest.
Usman Khan holding a placard while joining other Islamic extremists on the streets of Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent in January 2010
The group was also linked to radical preacher Anjem Choudary by a mobile phone seized from an address of one of the plotters, which contained material relating to protests by the banned Al-Muhajiroun group he founded.
Passing sentence on February 9 2012, the judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, said this was a ‘serious, long-term venture in terrorism’ that could also have resulted in atrocities in Britain.
He said: ‘It was envisaged by them all that ultimately they and the other recruits may return to the UK as trained and experienced terrorists available to perform terrorist attacks in this country, on one possibility contemplated in the context of the return of British troops from Afghanistan. ‘
Th e trio appealed against their sentences and on April 16 2013 had their indeterminate sentences quashed by the Court of Appeal, which instead imposed determinate custodial sentences.
The Court of Appeal judgment said: ‘The groups were clearly considering a range of possibilities including fundraising for the establishment of a military training madrassa in Pakistan , where they would undertake training themselves and recruit others to do likewise, sending letter bombs through the post, attacking public houses used by British racist groups, attacking a high-profile target with an explosive device and a Mumbai-style attack. ‘
Khan was charged with conspiracy to cause explosions and other terrorism offences in late December 2010, along with eight others
Usman Khan , 28, had complained to medics about being bullied and had been called Beyonce Boy in prison
Allowing their sentence appeals, Lord Justice Leveson, sitting with Mr Justice Mitting and Mr Justice Sweeney, sentenced Shahjahan to 17 years and eight months and Khan and Hussain to 16 years, along with five-year extended license periods.
Khan denied being a terrorist in a 2008 interview with BBC News after his address was raided by anti-terror police.
He told the reporter: ‘I’ve been born and bred in England, in Stoke-on-Trent, in Cobridge, and all the community knows me and they will know, if you ask them, they will know like these labels what they’re putting on us, like terrorist, this, that, they will know.
‘I ain’t no terrorist.’
Another video of Khan, obtained by Sky News, sees the attacker talk of his mistrust of the aut horities in 2010.
‘Now I know I can never ever trust them, never ever, ‘he said.
‘ I didn’t trust them anyway but now, they’ve showed their hatred, they’ve showed how much they can hate you. ‘
Why was Usman Khan freed from jail? How terrorist was released after serving eight years for plotting to blow up the Stock Exchange
When was Khan jailed and for how long?
Khan was given an open-ended jail term – known as an ‘imprisonment for public protection’, or IPP – in January 2012 at Woolwich Crown Court after pleading guilty to one count of ‘engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism’. The sentencing judge Mr Justice Wilkie specified a minimum custodial term of eight years. But to secure his freedom, Khan would have to convince the Parole Board that he no longer posed a risk.
What happened then?
In an appeal in March 2013, Khan’s lawyers won their case – and he was given a term with a definitive end point. The need for Khan’s release to be approved by the Parole Board was also dropped. Appeal judges imposed an extended sentence of 21 years which comprised a custodial element of 16 years and a five-year ‘extension period’. The 16 – year custodial element meant he was eligible for release at the halfway point – eight years.
Why is only half of a sentence served?
It has been a convention since the 1960 s that half of a term is served in prisons. The rest of a sentence is served ‘on license’, when an offender can be quickly sent back to jail if they fail to behave.
When was Khan finally freed?
The Parole Board was quick to point out after Friday’s attack that Khan’s release was not referred to them – he was automatically released at the halfway point. He remained on ‘extended license’ and had to report to police and probation officers, wear a GPS electronic tag and fulfil other requirements.
How did laws passed by a former Labor government affect the Court of Appeal’s options?
PM Boris Johnson has said Khan had to be ‘automatically released half-way through’ because of changes Labor made in 2008 to Extended Sentences for Public Protection or EPPs. This is correct.
Until 2008 , anyone on an EPP had to have their release approved by the Parole Board. If they were refused, the board could keep them in jail up to the end of their custodial period, which in Khan’s case was 16 years.
But in mid – 2008, Labor made release automatic halfway through.However, the Court of Appeal could possibly have upheld the original IPP sentence.
How can ministers toughen up the sentencing of terrorists?
Khan’s atrocity has reignited debate over whether there is now a case to remove entitlement to early release for convicted terrorists.
PM Boris Johnson has already said they should be made to serve ‘every day’ of their terms. Some important steps have already been taken.
Extended Determinate Sentences (EDS), brought in in 2012, only allow convicted terrorists to apply for parole two-thirds through their sentence, with no automatic entitlement for release.
The Counter Terrorism and Border Security Act, which won Royal Assent in February, toughens jail terms for a range of offences and – crucially –makes it easier to keep terror suspects behind bars beyond the halfway point. It extended two types of sentence – the EDS and Sentences for Offenders of Particular Concern (SOPC) – to a number of middle-ranking terror offences.
A clearer structure could set out underlining principles such as whether early release is allowed, and whether the Parole Board or ministers should approve any release before it takes place rather than it taking place automatically.
A clearer structure would help underline how the justice system should deal with terrorists.