Fishmongers Hall terror victim was stabbed as he defended himself

Fishmongers Hall terror victim was stabbed as he defended himself

One of the victims of the Fishmongers’ Hall terror attack was stabbed “multiple times” as he tried to defend himself, an inquest has heard.

Usman Khan, 28, killed Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones at a prisoner education event in London on 29 November 2019.

Forensic pathologist Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl said Mr Merritt suffered 15 injuries during a struggle with Khan.

London’s Guildhall heard a security review of the venue in 2019 found the risk of a terror attack was high.

However, assessors concluded that the likelihood of one actually taking place was very low.

Earlier, jurors were shown computerised images of the injuries sustained by the two victims during the attack at the Learning Together event.

Dr Fegan-Earl told them Mr Merritt’s wounds to his arms and torso were “indicative of a dynamic assault with significant defensive posturing”.

He continued: “What I mean by that is, an individual who is assaulted with a knife, if they are capable of anticipating a blow, the natural reaction is to raise the arm to defend themselves.”

The pathologist said that “extreme force was used” against Mr Merritt and gave a cause of death as shock and haemorrhage caused by a stab wound to the chest.

Speaking about Ms Jones, Dr Fegan-Earl said the 23-year-old was stabbed only once above the collarbone, which had cut through large blood vessels to her arm, causing “catastrophic bleeding”.

He told jurors it was likely the injury was caused by a knife with a single sharp cutting edge and said: “In my view, on a three-point scale of mild, moderate and severe, I was of the view that severe force would have been deployed.”

The cause of death given was the same as Mr Merritt.

The Guildhall also heard evidence from Commodore Toby Williamson, clerk of the Fishmongers’ Company, who said there were no knife arches or wands in use at the venue in November 2019.

He said the building did not have internal CCTV but there were self-locking doors, external CCTV and security staff on duty.

He explained that during a short period before the attack, a receptionist had been letting people in and out of Fishmongers’ Hall.

He described the arrangement as “pragmatic”, saying entry into the building was “still controlled but not always done by a trained security guard”.

The inquests were also told that a company called Control Risks conducted the security assessment in 2019.

They made various recommendations including visible security at entries to the building, avoidance of controversial charitable activities and terrorism awareness training for the head of security and facilities manager, the jury was told.

Commodore Willamson said he would have relied on organisers Learning Together to tell staff if its event was classed as anything other than low-risk, and if they wanted more security on duty.

He said he would have been surprised to learn that offenders who had committed serious violent crimes and had only recently been released from prison had been in attendance.

The inquest hearing continues.

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