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Respects paid for London Bridge attack victims

The Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich and a former High Sheriff of Suffolk have paid their respects and defended rehabilitation programmes for prisoners after the London Bridge attack on Friday.

Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, had been at a conference celebrating the five-year anniversary of the Learning Together prison programme when knifeman, 28-year-old Usman Khan, attacked and killed them.

Khan was out on licence from prison when he murdered the pair and injured three others in the attack on London Bridge on Friday, before being shot dead by armed police.

Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, who were killed in the London Bridge terror attack (23081057)
Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, who were killed in the London Bridge terror attack (23081057)

The Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, and Suffolk’s most senior Church of England clergyman, said: “My heart goes out to the family and friends of Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, both Cambridge graduates, tragically killed in the terror attack at London Bridge on Friday.

“Jack’s father David called his son a 'beautiful spirit who always took the side of the underdog', and it is clear that Jack was murdered doing the work he loved and passionately believed in.

“As course coordinator of the Learning Together programme at Cambridge University’s Criminology Department Jack helped prisoners around the country in their journey of rehabilitation, including in Warren Hill Prison here in Suffolk.

“There are clearly questions to be answered about the rehabilitation of those who have committed certain extreme crimes.

“But I know how valuable the programme has been to so many as they make the transition out of prison, and from all we know of Jack, he would want us to redouble our efforts to help.”

Former High Sheriff of Suffolk George Vestey, also said his thoughts were with all those affected by this horrific event.

He added: “I do believe, however, that we must collectively hold our nerve over rehabilitation because the evidence is clearly there that once they have served their punishment, prisoners need support in re-integrating into society.

“I have been working with Warren Hill on a rehabilitation project during the past year, linking community-based mentors with prisoners preparing for release and the impact has so far been very positive.”