A convicted murderer, who used a narwhal tusk to tackle Fishmongers’ Hall attacker Usman Khan, has spoken exclusively to Channel 4 News, saying his actions prove “people can change”.
In his first ever interview, Steve Gallant said he hopes he can inspire other prisoners to reform, as he paid tribute to Jack Merritt – one of two people killed by Khan two years ago.
Mr Gallant was on his first day out of prison, on day release while serving a 17-year sentence, when he confronted Khan who was armed with two knives and had a fake bomb strapped to his body.
Mr Gallant told Channel 4 News: “What happened there represented so much of what I believe in – that people can change.
“I think it symbolised a really important moment that captured a lot of people’s imagination, in the sense that you can change.
“You can do something bad and do something good. And I hope that it inspired other prisoners.”
Khan fatally stabbed University of Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, and injured three other people during the attack in November 2019.
He was taking part in a Learning Together event at Fishmongers’ Hall, next to London Bridge, along with several other people who had spent time in prison, including Mr Gallant.
Mr Gallant was accompanied to the event by a prison officer and told to stay put when the attack began.
But when he went to have a look at what was happening, the officer was giving first aid to a woman and another woman lay seriously injured nearby.
Mr Gallant said Khan then approached him.
“He came towards me and he opened his jacket and showed me what was an explosive belt strapped to his waist,” he said.
“I think he wanted to scare me off. But he was in the midst of a killing spree. I couldn’t just walk away and for some reason, I assumed it was fake.
“And then I looked next to me, and there was a chap next to me holding out a narwhal tusk.”
Mr Gallant struck Khan with the tusk which snapped.
Khan was then pursued onto London Bridge by Mr Gallant and several others.
Mr Gallant wrestled with Khan on the bridge before the police arrived and shot Khan.
Speaking about what it was like to return to the scene of the attack for the first time, Mr Gallant said: “It’s quite emotional. Jack Merritt lost his life here [and] Saskia Jones.
“A lot of things happened that changed many people’s lives forever.”
Mr Gallant says he had become friends with Mr Merritt through the Learning Together prison reform programme.
He said: “Jack was amazing – very intelligent, very caring.
“This guy was passionate about his role and he had such a profound effect on so many people in the prison system.”
Mr Gallant was jailed for 17 years in 2005 for the murder of ex-firefighter Barrie Jackson in Hull.
His sentence was reduced by 10 months by former Justice Secretary Robert Buckland because of his bravery on London Bridge.
Mr Gallant said: “I deeply regret the fact that I have taken someone’s life. And I understand and I accept nobody has the right to take someone’s life or use violence.”
He added: “Prison can work. But I think it’s got to come from within.
“If you don’t want to change, nothing can change you.”