A convicted murderer was among ex-prisoners and members of the public who grappled with and grounded the London Bridge knife attacker before police arrived.
One man was armed with a fire extinguisher and another a 5ft narwhal tusk as people at the scene surrounded the attacker, who was eventually pinned to the ground.
Scotland Yard is investigating how 28-year-old Usman Khan was able to launch the attack in London Bridge, despite being known to the authorities and fitted with an electronic tag to monitor his movements. He was allowed out a year ago after serving time for his part in a plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange.
In footage that has since emerged, Khan is sprayed with a fire extinguisher, while another man tries to suppress the assailant with a narwhal tusk – a long pointed tooth from a type of whale – lunging at him. It is believed the item was pulled from the wall of Fishmongers’ Hall, a Grade II-listed building on London Bridge, by a Polish chef called Łukasz.
Among those who pinned down the attacker was James Ford, 42, who is also thought to have tried to save the life of a woman who had been stabbed. Ford was jailed for life in 2004 for the murder of 21-year-old Amanda Champion.
Ford, who is understood to be serving the final days of his sentence at HMP Standford Hill, an open prison in Kent, was on London Bridge as the attack unfolded.
David Wilson, a professor of criminology at Birmingham City University and chair of the Friends of Grendon prison – where Ford was – said the prisoner went through an intensive period of psychotherapy.
“I only picked up it was James Ford as a consequence of them publishing his photo … I remember him and indeed some others from the Friends of Grendon charity.”
He said what happened was a tale of two prisoners, with Ford an example of how people can change. “I know through my work that people do change and they change as a consequence of innovative but challenging regimes such as the one at HMP Grendon.”
Khan was at a conference at Fishmongers’ Hall near London Bridge for a University of Cambridge-organised conference on rehabilitating offenders, after previously participating in the university’s Learning Together prisoner rehabilitation programme, but had showed “no cause for concern”, a source with knowledge of the programme told PA.
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Source: The Guardian