Fishmongers’ Hall inquest: Witness thought terrorist Usman Khan was ‘play-fighting’on April 19, 2021 at 12:20 pm

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Marc Conway describes coming face to face with terrorist Usman Khan at Fishmongers’ Hall in London.

Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones

image copyrightMet Police

A witness to the Fishmongers’ Hall terror attack thought killer Usman Khan was ‘play-fighting’ as he launched his assault, an inquest has heard.

Khan, 28, fatally wounded Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, at a prisoner education event on 29 November 2019.

Marc Conway told the inquest he thought people were “messing about” before noticing Khan’s knives.

He stamped on Khan’s hands after the incident moved outside before the attacker was shot dead by police.

Giving evidence at London’s Guildhall, Mr Conway said: “Before I realised it was serious, I said to people ‘they’re messing about in there, we’ve been invited to this nice building and you’re playing up’.

“Then I realised, and I said ‘he’s got a knife, two big knives’. It became apparent something serious was happening.”

Marc Conway

image copyrightJulia Quenzler

Mr Conway, who knew Mr Merritt, said bystanders sought to hit Khan with various items, including a wooden chair, in a bid to stop him.

But he said: “He (Khan) wasn’t reacting in a way I think someone hit with a chair would react.

“There was some added motivation or strength there that I hadn’t seen before.”

He phoned 999 and saw Khan burst out of Fishmongers’ Hall, making his way on to London Bridge, before turning to face those in pursuit, appearing to cross the knives in front of his face as he did so.

Mr Conway then ran across the bridge to try to help wrestle the knives from Khan, before realising that he had what appeared to be an explosive belt strapped to him.

Khan was tackled by members of the public with a decorative pike, narwhal tusk and fire extinguisher, and was then shot dead by police on London Bridge.

“I just wanted to help. When someone said he’s got a bomb, and you realise that he’s got a belt round him, you felt like you was fighting for your life,” said Mr Conway, a policy officer with the Prison Reform Trust.

“I stamped on his hands, I may have put a few kicks in.

“One of the knives we managed to get rid of quite quickly, but the other was quite difficult to get off him.”

Map showing location of incident at London Bridge

The inquest also heard from waitress Sandra Bufano, who had helped serve brunch at the event and was covering the cloakroom for a colleague when the attack began.

She heard screaming coming from the nearby men’s toilet, where Khan stabbed Mr Merritt, before he emerged and locked eyes with her.

“He was not doing anything, but just staring at me,” Ms Bufano said, describing the look as “very intense”.

Khan then stepped towards Ms Jones, who was about to leave belongings in the cloakroom, and stabbed her in the neck.

“He wasn’t rushing, he was completely calm and collected,” Ms Bufano said.The jury inquests, taking place before coroner Mark Lucraft QC, continue.

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