Former prisoner told London Bridge victim she was ‘beautiful and loved’ as she lay dying – inquest

A former prisoner was visibly moved as he described comforting Saskia Jones as she lay dying after being stabbed in the neck by terrorist Usman Khan, he told the inquest into her death.

Giving evidence on the deaths of Ms Jones, 23, and Jack Merritt, 25, at Fishmongers’ Hall near London Bridge on 29 November 2019, Gareth Evans recalled seeing her pale and holding her neck after being attacked.

As she came towards him she collapsed, he told the hearing.

"I caught her and she let go of her neck and blood came out," he said. Trying to speak, she said "please".

"I took hold of her. I sat down on the steps and I was talking to her," said Mr Evans, who had travelled by train to the prisoner rehabilitation event with Mr Merritt that day.

"I was just trying to make sure she felt comfortable," he added, appearing to wipe a tear from his eye.

"I said she was loved and she was beautiful."

He kept his hand on her wound until prison officer Adam Roberts came and took over, sitting next to Ms Jones and putting pressure on it using his jacket.

Mr Roberts described seeing Usman Khan at the bottom of the stairs with his knives.

He said he was "telling her to look at me and not at him".

Mr Roberts told the court that Ms Jones started gasping and he picked her up and carried her down the stairs to perform CPR.

Officers from City of London Police arrived and helped as he continued to put pressure on the wound.

But when a decision was made that nothing more could be done, Mr Roberts spoke of his anger.

"It didn’t make sense why you would allow a 23-year-old girl to die," he said.

Earlier, the jury heard from waitress Sandra Bufano, who was manning the cloakroom when Ms Jones came in before the attack.

As she was rummaging through her bag at the counter, screams could be heard from the men’s toilets, but she seemed unaware, she said.

It was then that Khan emerged and locked eyes with her in a "very intense" stare, before moving towards Ms Jones.

"He wasn’t rushed. He was completely calm and collected," Ms Bufano told the hearing.

She described how her view was blocked, but Khan moved his arm upwards towards the victim.

"At that point she screamed. At that point I thought something really bad was happening," she said.

Ms Bufano then saw Jack Merritt unstable on his feet, not saying anything, with his arms limp by his side and blood dripping down.

"I just panicked. I froze," she said.

The day began with evidence from Marc Conway, who was also at the Learning Together event for the Prison Reform Trust.

He described how he thought the commotion in the venue was play-fighting as the attack began.

But Khan, a convicted terrorist, was armed with two knives and a fake suicide belt.

"He turned to the side and I saw the knives in his hand,” he said, adding that objects including a chair were being thrown at him.

"He 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."

Mr Conway had moved back to the bridge and was calling the police when Khan emerged from the building with the two knives crossed in front of his face, being followed by a group of people.

One had a narwhal tusk, another a fire extinguisher, and a third a decorative pike.

"By the time I had got there they had managed to knock Khan over. "I just ran over and started helping them trying to get the knives off him," he said.

It was then he was told Khan had a bomb.

"You felt like you were fighting for your life," he said. "I stamped on his hands. I may have put a few kicks in."

Armed police arrived and shouted to the group to get out of the way before shooting him.

The inquests into the deaths of Ms Jones and Mr Merritt are expected to continue until the last week of May and will be followed by a hearing into Khan’s death.

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