Murderer who fought terrorist with narwhal tusk pardoned by Queen

A convicted murderer who risked his life to fight London Bridge terrorist Usman Khan with a ­narwhal tusk has been pardoned by the Queen in an incredibly rare move.

Steven Gallant, who was on day release, could now be freed from prison early, in a move made far less controversial thanks to the extraordinary dignity of the family of the man he killed.

The Royal Prerogative of Mercy granted by Her Majesty on the advice of her Government is almost unheard of for a jailed murderer.

It means Gallant, 42, will have 10 months knocked off the 17-year sentence handed to him in 2005 – and he could now go before a Parole Board next June to rubber stamp his freedom.

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The Ministry of Justice confirmed the decision was made as a result of Gallant’s “exceptionally brave actions”.

The son of firefighter Barrie Jackson, who Gallant battered to death outside a Hull pub, even said he may be willing to meet his dad's killer one day.

Student Jack, 21, told the Mirror yesterday: “I have mixed emotions – but what happened at London Bridge goes to show the reality that people can change.”

Gallant was on his first day release at a conference set up by an organisation called Learning Together, to help rehabilitate prisoners, when Khan launched the attack last November.

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Usman Khan

He was in the Fishmongers Hall next to London Bridge along with his former prison mentor, friend and conference co-ordinator Jack Merritt, 25.

Convicted terrorist Khan, 28, had also been invited to the event as an offender out of prison on licence, despite being jailed in 2012 for planning to bomb the London stock exchange.

Khan suddenly produced two knives and stabbed Jack and his fellow co-ordinator Saskia Jones, 23 – both Cambridge graduates.

In an extraordinarily courageous act, Gallant went for the terrorist after he was handed an ornamental five-foot narwhal tusk from a wall by civil servant David Frost to use as a weapon.

He chased Khan on to the bridge where he was shot dead by police.

Afterwards, Gallant said he “didn’t hesitate” to confront Khan.

In a statement he said: “I could tell something was wrong and had to help. I saw injured people. Khan was stood in the foyer with two large knives in his hands. He was a clear danger to all.”

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Last night Jack’s father David, 55, of Cottenham in Cambridgeshire, said: “Steve fully deserves this pardon or reduction in sentence. It is fantastic.

“He was very close to Jack and he turned his life around and reformed. I am really pleased for him.”

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The two had met previously through Jack’s role at rehabilitation service Learning Together in 2016.

He mentored Gallant behind bars. Gallant described him as a “role model and friend”.

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Referring to his conviction for murder, Gallant said: “It is right I was handed a severe penalty for my actions.

"Once I’d accepted my punishment, I decided to seek help. When you go to prison, you lose control of your life.

"Bettering yourself becomes one of the few things you can do while reducing the existing burden on society.”

Last night a Ministry of Justice official confirmed Gallant had been granted a pardon.

He said it was “in recognition of his exceptionally brave actions… which helped save people’s lives despite the tremendous risk to his own”.

A forensic officer holding an evidence box, with what appears to be part of the narwhal tusk, on London Bridge after the terrorist attack in 2019

The last murderer to be given a Royal pardon was nearly 25 years ago, when former IRA leader and police informer Sean O’Callaghan, who died in 2017, was freed.

The most high-profile royal pardon was awarded posthumously to Alan Turing in 2013, overturning the wartime codebreaker’s 1952 gross indecency conviction for a then-illegal homosexual relationship.

Royal insiders say the Queen “acts on the advice of Her Majesty’s Government” when signing off such pardons.

Yesterday Gallant’s victim’s son Jack said he had had “no idea about the pardon” for his father’s killer.

Gallant had been among a gang who battered his dad Barrie to death outside The Dolphin pub in Hull in April 2005. It was so savage paramedics who tried to revive him couldn’t find his mouth.

A court heard Gallant planned the assault believing Barrie had attacked his girlfriend eight days before.

Jack said: “In my mind, Gallant has nearly done his time and if someone has undergone rehabilitation and change, which it seems he has, then it’s fair enough.

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"Every time his name is mentioned it brings back memories for me, my brother and mum but it happened years ago. I was four at the time.”

Asked if he would consider meeting Gallant, Jack said: “Maybe. I wouldn’t rule it out.”

Last night Gallant spoke through his solicitor, Neil Hudgell, who said: “Steve feels a debt of gratitude to all those who helped him to achieve a Royal Prerogative of Mercy.

“He is passionate about using his knowledge and experiences to help others steer away from crime.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “The Lord Chancellor has granted Steven Gallant a Royal Prerogative of Mercy reducing his minimum tariff of 10 months in recognition of his exceptionally brave actions at Fishmongers’ Hall, which helped save people’s lives despite the tremendous risk to his own.”

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