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London Bridge attack: 'I think about it every single day'

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media captionFormer prisoner Marc Conway pays tribute to those who died in the London Bridge attack.

A former prisoner who was one of the people who held terrorist Usman Khan down on London Bridge has said he will carry on the good work of the two people who died.

Convicted terrorist Usman Khan fatally stabbed Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones and injured two others on 29 November 2019.

He was shot dead by police on London Bridge in the centre of the capital. Marc Conway was one of the people who pinned him down until the police arrived.

He later discovered that his friends Jack and Saskia had been killed.

In his first broadcast interview about the attack, Marc told BBC Radio 5 Live the experience had been traumatic but he was not going to allow it to "swallow him up".

"It's pushed my motivations on even more. Jack and Saskia lived in all of us. We will keep on fighting and try not to let them die in vain," he said.

The attack by Khan began at a conference in Fishmonger's Hall, at the north end of London Bridge.

Marc was due to give a speech at the event to celebrate five years of Learning Together, the programme that sees prisoners learn and gain qualifications alongside Cambridge University students.

Marc says the programme turned his life around. He spent many years in prison for a range of serious offences that he now very much regrets and takes full responsibility for.

image copyrightWest Midlands Police
image captionUsman Khan

He had been standing outside the building when he saw Khan running out.

"To be honest I froze," said Marc. "It felt like an eternity. I didn't know what to do or how to act and then something just kicked in when I saw my friends and people that I knew chase him down the bridge.

"Maybe adrenaline, maybe a bit of stupidity, but I decided to run across the road and get involved."

Marc said walking back into the hall was the worst part.

"It was like a scene from a movie," he said. "It didn't seem real. The alarm was going off, people screaming, there was blood everywhere."

Marc said he had received counselling for what he saw.

"I think about it every single day of my life, sometimes more vividly than others," he said. "It's had a massive impact on my life.

"It sounds weird," he added. "But if that had happened to me and I was still in my old frame of mind, I don't think it would have affected me as much. Because my mind set has changed in the way that I view criminal activity and the way that I view trauma and certain violent incidents, it has affected me massively."

image copyrightMet Police
image captionJack Merritt and Saskia Jones

Marc met Jack at Grendon prison, near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, through the Learning Together programme. He described the first time they met.

"He had this cheeky smile and just a really good aura about him," he said. "He didn't see rich or poor, he didn't see 'you're in prison and I'm not'. He was just a genuine guy. All the tributes you've heard about him still don't do him justice. You times them by 100 and that was our Jack. "

Jack was one of the first people to ring Marc when he left jail and helped him secure a job by writing him a reference.

Marc said he is determined to carry on the work that Saskia and Jack achieved through the Learning Together programme.

"These were good, good people who were doing fantastic work," he said. "In their short lives they changed so many people's lives. Sometimes I wonder what they would have come on to achieve if this tragic incident didn't happen."

The full inquest into the deaths of Mr Merritt and Ms Jones is expected to take place next April - and one for Khan will follow after.

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