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Crilly pleaded guilty to manslaughter after his murder conviction was overturned

London Bridge attack: Reformed prisoner who fought knifeman ‘prepared to die

A reformed ex-prisoner who fought the London Bridge knife attacker with a fire extinguisher has said he was prepared to die to protect others.

John Crilly, who was jailed for murder after a burglary went wrong, said he tackled Usman Khan while believing he was wearing a live suicide belt.

“I was screaming at him to blow it. I was prepared to lose my life.”

As he and others fought Khan on the street, he shouted at police to shoot the attacker.

In his first broadcast interview since the attack, Crilly, 48, told of the moment armed police confronted the knifeman on London Bridge.

He said: “It seemed like ages before they shot him. It wasn’t all gung-ho and trigger happy, they proper took their time, to the point where I did scream ‘shoot him’.”

Khan, convicted of terrorist offences in 2012, killed two people – Cambridge University graduates Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones – and wounded three others when he launched a knife attack on 29 November at 13:58 GMT during a prisoner rehabilitation conference at Fishmongers’ Hall.

Crilly had been attending the Learning Together conference and remembers hearing a “very high-pitched girl’s scream” when he knew something was wrong.

He went downstairs to find Miss Jones, 23, lying wounded, before he saw Khan in the corridor, armed with two knives.

After shouting at Khan, asking him what he was doing, Crilly remembers his chilling reply: “He says something like ‘kill everyone’ or ‘kill you’, something about killing people.”

When asked if he thought Khan was targeting specific people, he said: “It seemed like everyone there was fair game.

“I just assume now that he just saw it as a big target. A room full of establishment people – judges, probation, police, security.”

Staff and participants of the conference attacked Khan with whatever they could find.

Crilly fought him first with a wooden lectern and then a fire extinguisher, all the while believing he was wearing a live suicide belt.

He said he acted on “instinct” and “was screaming at [Khan] to blow it [the belt]… calling his bluff.”

But he said Khan told him he was “waiting for the police” to arrive before detonating the belt, which police later found to be fake.

“I was prepared to probably lose my life”, he said.

Two men used a pole and a whale tusk ripped from the venue’s wall to fight off Khan and force him out of the building.

Crilly and others used their makeshift weapons to pursue Khan onto the street on London Bridge.

In video footage, he is seen using the spray from a fire extinguisher to blind Khan, while another man held him back with the whale tusk.

He said: “The spray distracted him if you watch the footage. And the guy with the tusk has been able to give him a prod which has unbalanced him.”

Other bystanders intervened to pin Khan down before police shot him dead at 14:03.

Crilly and others used their makeshift weapons to pursue Khan onto the street on London Bridge.

In video footage, he is seen using the spray from a fire extinguisher to blind Khan, while another man held him back with the whale tusk.

He said: “The spray distracted him if you watch the footage. And the guy with the tusk has been able to give him a prod which has unbalanced him.”

Other bystanders intervened to pin Khan down before police shot him dead at 14:03. Source BBC

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