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.”



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Girlfriend’s anguish at memorial for victims

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.

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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.

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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 was quashed at the Court of Appeal in April 2013.

Saskia Jones died in Friday's attack
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Saskia Jones died in Friday’s attack

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 he has “campaigned against early release and short sentences for many years” – and that “too many people are released automatically on to our streets and we need to address that”.



The prime minister was pressed on his position when it comes to prisoner rehabilitation in the wake of the recent terror attack



‘Some people can’t be rehabilitated’

Prior to writing the article, David Merritt had posted a tweet criticising newspaper reports that said the prime minister was leading a “blitz on freed jihadis”.

He 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.”

Jack Merritt
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Jack Merritt was a Cambridge University graduate

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, a volunteer on the programme from Stratford-upon-Avon, 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.”