London Bridge hero on chilling moment police shot terrorist he had pinned down



London Bridge hero Steve Gallant today talks for the first time about tackling a jihadist – and how death has defined him once again.

The former prisoner – jailed for life in 2005 for murder – was one of three men who fought Usman Khan after his bloody rampage.

Khan killed Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt at a rehabilitation event which Steve, ex-offender John Crilly and Khan all attended.

Steve has never given a newspaper interview about that day, November 29, 2019. Until now.

He tells the Sunday Mirror how he, John and Ministry of Justice aide Darryn Frost pounced on Khan – and of the chilling moment police opened fire.

London Bridge terror hero Steve Gallant, who tackled Usman Khan to the ground and restrained him with a Narwhal tusk
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Steve, 44, says “I was aware of people in my peripheral vision.

“I felt something cold on my arm – which I later realised had been a fire extinguisher which John Crilly had.

“There was another man helping me pin down Usman with a narwhal tusk.

“I heard an armed officer shout, ‘Bomb!’ and turned away from Usman to see him being shot at.

Steve, circled, and fellow heroes Darryn, left, and John tackle Usman Khan
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“I’d just seen Saskia and knew that she was dead as the paramedics were trying to revive her.

“But it wasn’t until later that day that Darryn introduced himself. He said, ‘You saved lives there’. You should get time off ’.

“I was in shock. All I could say was: ‘That was my first act of violence in 14-and-a-half years’.”

Steve was referring to his part in an ambush which left a man dead in 2005. He was deep into a 17-year sentence when the London Bridge horror unfolded.

Steve pictured with his grandmother, mother and two of his siblings
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He and Darryn, 40, have since formed a lasting friendship and are setting up a charity – in honour of Jack Merritt’s name – to help rehabilitate prisoners.

Steve adds: “It struck me, after meeting Darryn, that we were these two guys, on completely different sides of the criminal justice fence, who had come together to help save lives.

“It showed we’re all human, no matter where you come from. And in that moment we had all come together to do good. That was quite powerful, I think, for both of us and he has been an absolute rock of support since.”

Khan unleashed his terror at a Learning Together rehabilitation event at Fishmonger’s Hall, which university students Saskia, 23, and Jack, 25, helped to organise.

Darryn and Steve want to assist prison leavers
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The jihadist had served eight years for trying to set up a terror training camp in Pakistan.

Steve tackled Khan with a narwhal whale tusk taken from a wall inside Fishmonger’s Hall. The tusk broke and Khan burst open the doors and on to London Bridge, with Steve in pursuit.

He jumped on Khan as John Crilly, 48, of Manchester, subdued Khan with the fire extinguisher and Darryn, a communications manager for the MoJ, helped pin him down with another tusk.

It later emerged Khan, 28, from Stoke-on-Trent, had been under investigation by MI5.

Steve with Jack Merritt who was murdered during the attack
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An inquest found failings by the security service, the police and probation.

Steve and Darryn, meanwhile, kept in touch. After an application by his solicitor Neil Hudgell, Steve was granted a Royal Pardon which cut 10 months off his jail term. He was freed from HMP Spring Hill, Bucks, in the summer and Darryn was there to meet him.

Steve says: “He shook my hand, gave me a hug and then we went for a celebratory lunch – at McDonald’s with egg and sausage McMuffins.

“It’s a lot to live up to, knowing that the Queen made that decision and I’ve been called ‘inspirational’ by Boris. But getting that pardon was a huge thing because it symbolised you can change and be rehabilitated in prison.

Steve tackled Khan with tusk, then held him down
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“It sort of validated all the work I’d done to change inside.”

The men have set up OwnMerit – part charity, part business – aiming to provide accommodation and job opportunities for prison leavers.

Jack Merritt’s dad David throws his support behind the venture, which gives a nod to Jack in its name.

He says: “Jack would have 100% been behind the idea because it is something practical and of help.”

Saskia Jones was fatally stabbed
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And of Steve, he adds: “I finally got to meet him when he got his bravery commendation in London. The event was amazing, very emotional.”

These days Steve is smartly dressed and articulate. He looks back with huge regret on the killing of Hull firefighter Barrie Jackson, 30, who he believed had hurt his then partner.

Steve was 28, a gas fitter and a big drinker. Within weeks of being jailed he knew he had to change.

Terrorist Usman Khan
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Steve received a royal pardon for his heroic efforts

He says: “I’d lost everything – my friends, my partner. I’d hurt Barrie’s family and ruined lives.

“I’d grown up thinking violence was the norm, the solution to problems, because I’d been subjected to years of physical abuse. Actually, it left me with nothing and that was the point at which I decided to change.

“I don’t see myself as a hero because I don’t like labels in general. But I don’t define myself as a killer either, because otherwise I could never forgive myself and move on – even though I deeply regret what I did and have taken complete ownership for it.”

Steve has now launched a charity with his friend Darryn Frost
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In jail, Steve attended anger management classes, channelled his energies into martial arts and the prison gym and started an Open University course in business and management. And he said volunteer Jack, who he met behind bars, had encouraged him into education.

“He was a young, good looking kid with a big smile and a Masters from Cambridge which I found so impressive, because it was something I felt incapable of doing myself at the time,” says Steve.

He wrote to Jack’s parents Dave and Anne. They invited him to the funeral but he didn’t get leave to attend.

Saskia Jones was also murdered during the attack
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Since his release he has lived in a bail hostel. But his mind is brimming with ideas for a better life.

He says: “Maybe not everyone can be rehabilitated. But if we ask, ‘What drives people to violence?’ I think many can be helped. You wonder, with Usman, if he’d been brought up in different circumstances would he have become a terrorist? The system is not pumping out people who are rehabilitated.

“That is a failure. We need to work on the prison environment.”

He prescribes a “zero tolerance” approach to jail violence, with the most threatening prison influencers segregated – including extremists who groom the vulnerable.

For himself, he dreams one day of a better future with kids and a life in the countryside. And he adds: “I want what most people want, but most of all I want to do some good from what’s happened.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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