Who is John Crilly? How a murderer on parole became the 'hero' of London Bridge attack

The 48-year-old man described Jack Merritt as his mentor who helped to change his life by educating him

The 48-year-old man named John Crilly who became the poster boy overnight after he was pictured dousing the London Bridge attacker Usman Khan with a fire extinguisher before pinning him down with his buddies, is a murderer and former heroin addict. He is currently out on parole.

Jack Merritt (25) and Saskia Jones (23) were stabbed to death by convicted terrorist Usman Khan during the attack last week. The victims were attending a prison education and rehabilitation programme called Learning Together, which aims to bring together academics and former prisoners for interactive workshops. Merritt was course co-ordinator and Jones was a volunteer at the event, organised by Cambridge University's Institute of Criminology.

Botched-up robbery that resulted in murder

Jack Merritt
Jack Merritt was killed in the attack Facebook

In 2005, Crilly was sentenced for life due to a botched-up robbery in which a 71-year-old pensioner was left dead. Crilly who had stolen a blender and a mobile from the pensioner's house while his accomplice killed him, was given life imprisonment by Lord Brian Leveson under the controversial joint enterprise doctrine.

His conviction was overturned after Crilly admitted to manslaughter. In a report published in 'The Sun', it was revealed that Crilly was currently out on parole after spending 13 years in jail.

Crilly and John were good friends

John Crilly and jack Merritt
John Crilly and his mentor Jack Merritt during a picture taken on his graduation ceremony Facebook

Crilly and London Bridge attack victim Jack Merritt knew each other and became good friends since their days at the Cambridge University-based Learning Together programme for inmates at HMP Grendon, Buckinghamshire.

Jack, who was the course-coordinator for the programme, worked hard on Crilly's rehabilitation and clearing him off drugs.

He also attended Crilly's graduation ceremony in which the latter received his law degree from the Open University. Lisa Ghiggini, administrator of Learning Together called Crilly hero.

Crilly remembers John

In homage to his mentor, Crilly took to Facebook. "Why!? This guy, Jack Merrit, the best guy I ever met. Jack actually tried helping this guy! To educate him. As he educated me. Jack came all the way from Cambridge to be at my graduation in m/cr (Manchester).'

After his release from the jail, Crilly had said: "I want to start contributing to society. To be a better person. I wasn't a violent drug addict. I was lost. I was lost in drugs. I had a bad life. I've changed it, but I wasn't guilty of murder. I totally accept what I did and it was wrong. That's important to me. I'm not a murderer."