A bystander billed as a “hero” for rushing to stop a terror attack on London Bridge has been identified as a convicted murderer on day release from prison.
On Sunday, Britishmedia reported that James Ford, 42, was among the men who ran after Usman Khan, who stabbed multiple people, killing two before police shot him dead.
Ford was jailed for life and recommended by a judge to serve 15 years behind bars for the grisly 2003 slaying of Amanda Champion. Champion, 21, had a learning disability that kept her mental state locked at that of a teenager. She vanished for three weeks in July of that year, her body found badly decomposed near her Kent, England, home after Ford strangled her and slit her throat.
Authorities caught Ford after he called U.K. charity Samaritans 45 times and confessed to the murder. The motive remains unknown.
Champion’s aunt, Angela Cox, told the Daily Mail on Friday that Ford is anything but a hero.
“I don’t care what he’s done today, he’s a murderer,” she said. “He is scum. Amanda was my niece and she was vulnerable and he took her life. He knew what he was doing. People don’t change.”
Just before Friday’s violence unfolded, Ford, who is serving the final days of his sentence, was at a prisoner rehabilitation conference organized by the University of Cambridge. Khan, a convicted terrorist who was also in attendance, began stabbing civilians in Fishmongers’ Hall, making his way to the bridge where he continued his rampage.
Ford was within a group of men who ran after Khan. One sprayed him with a fire extinguisher and another jabbed at him with a five-foot narwhal tusk believed to have been grabbed from the hall. According to The Guardian, Ford helped to pin down Khan and is also thought to have attempted to save a female victim.
Khan, 28, was released from prison a year ago, having served time for his involvement in a nine-person plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange and create a terrorist training camp.