Tuesday, 23 Apr 2024

Queen’s parting gift laid bare with plan to award medal to ex-convict

Steve Gallant talks to Channel 4 News after London Bridge attack

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The Queen’s final poignant act as monarch will see some 15 heroes, including a convicted murderer and three other men who tackled a terrorist who killed two people at Fishmongers’ Hall in London in 2019, named in the 2023 Civilian Gallantry List, the last to be approved by Elizabeth II after 70 years. Steven Gallant, who was out on licence after being convicted of killing a man in Hull in 2005, will be awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal along with three others who confronted convicted terrorist Usman Khan until armed police arrived at the scene in November 2019.

Khan, who had two large knives and a fake suicide belt, stabbed Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, and injured three other people before running on to London Bridge, where he was confronted by Mr Gallant, John Crilly, Darryn Frost and Lukasz Koczocik.

Ex-prisoner Mr Crilly hosed Khan with a fire extinguisher and communications manager Mr Frost jabbed at Khan with a narwhal tusk, sending him off balance.

Mr Gallant then tackled Khan to the ground, where all three restrained him until armed police arrived.

It came after Mr Koczocik used a long ceremonial pike taken from the walls of the Grade II-listed building to disarm Khan.

Also, on the 15-person list is church bell ringer John Rees, 88, who was bludgeoned to death with two wine bottles and a fire extinguisher as he attempted to stop a mentally ill woman, Zara Radcliffe, carrying out a knife attack in a Co-op store on May 5 2020 in Pen Y Graig, Rhondda, South Wales.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden said: “We all hope we’d react with courage in the face of danger. These people have lived through that test, and responded in the most admirable way.”

Mr Gallant reflected on his heroic act in 2021. Speaking to Channel 4, he said: “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.”

Recalling his close encounter with the terrorist, Mr Gallant added: “He came towards me and he opened his jacket and showed me what was an explosive belt strapped to his waist.

“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.

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“And then I looked next to me, and there was a chap next to me holding out a narwhal tusk.”

While Mr Gallant was hailed for his bravery after the London Bridge incident, he also spoke about his regret due to the crime he had committed 14 years earlier.

He 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.

“Prison can work. But I think it’s got to come from within. If you don’t want to change, nothing can change you.”

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