Queen cuts sentence for murderer who used narwhal tusk to stop London Bridge attacker Usman Khan
The convicted murderer who used a narwhal tusk to help end the London Bridge terror attack that claimed the lives of two University of Cambridge graduates has had his sentence cut following an intervention by the Queen.
Steven Gallant, 42, was on day release at the event for reformed prisoners in Fishmongers’ Hall when he confronted Usman Khan, who killed Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, during his rampage on November 29, 2019.
The graduates were part of the university’s Learning Together scheme that helped prisoners access education.
David Merritt, 55, father of Jack, from Cottenham, welcomed the decision to bring Gallant’s case before the parole board 10 months early.
He told the Daily Mirror: “Steve fully deserves this pardon, or reduction in sentence.
“It is fantastic. He was very close to Jack and he turned his life around and reformed. I am really pleased for him.”
It was Gallant’s first time out on licence after being jailed for life with a minimum term of 17 years in 2005 for the murder of a firefighter in Hull.
He wielded a narwhal tusk that had been grabbed from the hall by civil servant Darryn Frost, who had also used it to confront the attacker.
Gallant then helped restrain Khan, who was wearing fake suicide vest and armed with two knives, before the terrorist was shot dead by police.
The Ministry of Justice confirmed on Saturday that the Queen had employed the little used ‘Royal Prerogative of Mercy’, on the advice of Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland, to intervene.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “The Lord Chancellor has granted Steven Gallant a Royal Prerogative of Mercy reducing his minimum tariff of 10 months in recognition of his exceptionally brave actions at Fishmongers’ Hall, which helped save people’s lives despite the tremendous risk to his own.”
The final decision ultimately rests with the parole board, but it is highly unlikely Gallant will be denied his freedom.
It is understood he has been a model prisoner who has expressed remorse for his crimes and has not faced any punishment or loss of privileges for the past 10 years.
Gallant has also participated in a number of interventions, including addressing previous substance abuse, and is in the process of studying for a business degree.
Ex-prisoner John Crilly, who was hailed a hero after he tackled Khan with a fire extinguisher during the attack, told Sky News he was “ecstatic” for Gallant but called for a “proper pardon”.
Gallant was one of two men convicted of the murder of Barrie Jackson, 33, who was beaten to death outside a pub in Hull.
The pair lay in wait for Mr Jackson outside the Dolphin after believing he attacked Gallant’s girlfriend.
Jackson was sprayed with CS gas and beaten so savagely with a hammer by a group of men that paramedics were unable to find his mouth.
The previous year, Jackson had himself been cleared of the attempted murder of a 64-year-old woman – stamping on her face and dumping her unconscious in a skip. He was convicted of assault.
Jackson’s student son Jack, 21, told the Mirror: “In my mind, Gallant has nearly done his time and if someone has undergone rehabilitation and change, which it seems he has, then it’s fair enough.”
Meanwhile, a court was told that Prevent officers who were tasked with monitoring Khan had "no specific training" in handling terrorists.
At a pre-inquest hearing on Friday, a lawyer for Mr Merritt’s family suggested there was already evidence of a “systemic problem”.
The full inquest into the deaths of Mr Merritt and Ms Jones is due next April, with one for Khan to follow.