Fishmongers' Hall: Saskia Jones unsure about going to event, inquest hears

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Image source, Met Police
Image caption,
Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt were killed by Usman Khan at the conference on offender rehabilitation

A woman stabbed to death by a convicted terrorist at a prisoner education celebration was initially in two minds about attending, her mother has said.

Saskia Jones, 23, was one of two people killed by Usman Khan at the event at Fishmongers' Hall in November 2019.

In a statement read to the jury, Michelle Jones said the "uncertainty" about attending lasted until the night before the Learning Together event.

"Eventually, she decided she should go," Mrs Jones said.

"Saskia was not aware of who would be attending the event.

"I asked Saskia the evening before and she still did not know, save for a few staff."

Ms Jones told jurors at London's Guildhall she also had "several conversations" with her daughter regarding her thoughts on the treatment of ex-offenders.

"She (Saskia) believed there should be a distinction between terrorists and other ex-offenders," Ms Jones added.

"Her view of terror offenders was, although they should be given possibility to change, they should be more closely monitored."

Image source, Met Police
Image caption,
Jurors heard Khan bought the coat he wore to Fishmongers' Hall the day before the attack

The inquest previously heard Khan was released as a high-risk category A offender in December 2018, having spent eight years in jail for plotting a jihadi terror camp in his parents' homeland of Pakistan.

There was also intelligence that Khan was considered to be an extremist gang leader while in prison, and had been grooming other inmates to assist with offending upon his release.

Mentor support was also withdrawn three months before 28-year-old Khan's knife attack, jurors were told.

Khan moved out of approved premises and into his own flat in Stafford where he remained unemployed.

'Good progress'

Phil Bromley, who was the line manager for Khan's probation officer Ken Skelton, upon Khan's release from prison, said feedback showed Khan was doing well in the community.

Mr Bromley said: "He continued to make good progress... there was nothing coming to me that caused any concern."

He said he was aware of some concerns that Khan was becoming isolated, but said it did not cause him undue worry.

Sumeet Johal, who was a counter-terrorism probation officer for Khan, told the inquests he believed Khan's motivation for criminal offending was political, not theological.

He described the convicted terrorist's understanding of religious scriptures as "quite shallow and hollow".

"He wasn't a student studying in terms of deep diving into religious texts... it was superficial," he said.

The inquests were also told an ERG (Extremism Risk Guidelines) report on Khan carried out days before by his probation officer concluded that there was a "low" risk of him reoffending.

Image source, Metropolitan Police
Image caption,
Usman Khan on a train heading for London on the day of his terror attack

Khan was enrolled on Learning Together programmes while in custody, including a creative writing class.

He was invited to attend the Fishmongers' Hall event as he was perceived as a "success story".

It was during a break at the function that Khan went into a toilet cubicle, strapped two kitchen knives to his hands, and began stabbing delegates, including Ms Jones and Jack Merritt, 25.

They died from their injuries, while three others were wounded in the attack.

Three people armed with a fire extinguisher and a narwhal tusk chased Khan from the building.

Khan, who was wearing a fake suicide belt, was then shot dead by police on nearby London Bridge.

The inquests continue.

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