A relative of Fishmongers’ Hall killer Usman Khan has apologised in court to the families of the victims, saying: “We are truly, truly sad of the events that happened.”
The family member, who cannot be named for legal reasons, made a direct address to the grieving families of Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, two Cambridge academics who were stabbed to death by Usman Khan at a prisoner education event in central London 18 months ago.
The witness, moments after taking his seat to give evidence at the inquests held at City of London’s Guildhall, asked to make a short statement.
He said the family ‘totally condemned’ Khan’s actions, and described how as a family they were really sad.
He said: “First all, sincere condolences to Jack and Saskia’s family.
“We are truly, truly sad of the events that happened.
“Whoever’s been affected physically or mentally, we are really sorry as a family – really, really sad.
“I just wanted to get that off my chest.”
The witness said Khan “seemed fine as a child” aged around 12 and as he got older he “kept everything to himself”.
When Khan became involved in distributing extremist literature in 2008, and later admitted charges linked to a terrorist plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange, the news was “a total shock” to his family, the court heard.
The witness was shown pictures from local Stoke paper The Sentinel of Khan holding extremist leaflets and waving a jihadi flag in the street, as well as with extremist Anjem Choudary.
Nick Armstrong, for the family of Jack Merritt, told the witness that despite his claims that Khan kept everything to himself, he was “literally standing in the street waving a flag”.
He also suggested that Khan had invented the story that he was expelled from school to come across as “a bad boy”.
After his release from prison in 2018, the witness said Khan would regularly visit the family home but would routinely dismiss any queries from them about his past.
The relative said: “He used to brush it off (and say) ‘don’t think about the past’.
Jonathan Hough QC, counsel to the inquests, asked: “In the course of the Sunday visits, the family never got a straight answer out of Usman and what got him into prison?”
The witness replied: “No. He said: ‘I was young, I was silly, I got into stupid things’.”
The witness said he saw Khan the Sunday before the Fishmongers’ Hall attack and described him as being “absolutely normal”.
Khan’s relative closed his evidence by repeating his family’s position on the atrocity.
Shaking his head, the witness said: ”We totally condemn his actions. Totally condemn.”
Nick Armstrong, representing Mr Merritt’s family, showed the witness evidence of Khan talking effusively about Mr Merritt during an interview with Learning Together staff in March 2019.
He also suggested Khan was full of self-worth, and always had been, describing him as “deeply disturbed”.
Mr Armstrong said: “He (Khan) was a nasty, violent, self-regarding piece of work.
“All the signs were there, and you looked away, didn’t you? You saw none of that.”
The witness looked down and mumbled a brief, inaudible reply.
The inquests have previously heard how Khan was involved in a string of violent incidents and “extremist bullying” during his eight years in seven prisons for planning a terrorist training camp, before being released on Christmas Eve 2018.
Jurors were also told Khan had been an “influential” inmate who associated with other high-profile terrorists including Fusilier Lee Rigby’s killer.
He had engaged with prisoner education programme Learning Together while in jail, and he travelled to London from his home to attend a five-year celebration event at their request on November 29 2019.
In the week prior, Khan had bought several items such as knives, a large coat and gaffer tape, and had cut his hair and trimmed his beard in “preparation for martyrdom”, police said.
On the day of the attack, Khan hid in a toilet cubicle, shaved his bodily hair, and armed himself with the knives, the inquests heard.
He fatally stabbed Mr Merritt and Ms Jones, also injuring three others, before telling those who tried to challenge him that he was “waiting for the police”.
Khan was pursued on to nearby London Bridge by three bystanders, armed with a fire extinguisher and a narwhal tusk in an attempt to disarm him, where he was shot by police.
The inquests continue.