The family of a murdered disabled woman insist her released killer should ‘rot in prison’ – despite his heroics during the London Bridge terror attack.
James Ford tried in vain to help Saskia Jones, 23, who was killed along with Jack Merritt, 25, in the November 2019 terror incident.
The 44-year-old attended the same prisoner education event at Fishmonger’s Hall as Islamist knifeman Usman Khan, who was shot dead by police after fatally wounding Ms Jones and Mr Merritt.
Ford, on day release, served 17 years after receiving a life sentence for murdering 21-year-old Amanda Champion during an unprovoked attack in July 2003.
Amanda, who had a mental age of 15, was randomly strangled and slashed across the throat in Ashford, Kent.
Ford admitted killing Amanda and was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 15 years,in 2004.
In May he was given day release after being cleared by the Parole Board to be freed from prison.
Her ‘family now want to share Ford’s picture far and wide in hope another family isn’t put through the same trauma as they were.
Amanda’s cousin Jo Champion told KentLive on behalf of the family: ‘We are disgusted that James ford has been released back into the community by the parole board.
‘We want James Ford’s picture shared everywhere. He gets to walk and Amanda can’t.
James Ford tried in vain to help Saskia Jones, 23, and Jack Merritt, 25, who were killed in the November 2019 terror incident. Ford, on day release, served 17 years after receiving a life sentence for murdering Amanda Champion (pictured right) during an unprovoked attack in July 2003
‘Amanda was just walking home that day that Ford murdered her. A the time she was 21 but had the mental age of a 15-year-old.
‘She never did any harm to anyone and this evil man took her life and to this day he has never given a reason why.
‘Not that any reason can justify a person who set out on that day to murder someone, and sadly it was our Amanda.’
Amanda was found dead by someone walking on land off Mead Road, Ashford, on the night of 26 July in 2003.
She had been reported missing 11 days earlier and had not been at work for more than three weeks.
Within minutes of killing her, Ford called the Samaritans, told them what he had done and hung up.
He made a further 45 calls to Samaritans confessing his crimes. Their worker broke a confidential vow of anonymity to report it to the police.
Ford was present during Khan’s knife rampage which spilled out on to London Bridge after beginning in a prisoner rehabilitation event at Fishmongers’ Hall.
At an inquest earlier this year, Ford described how he met Khan at the start of the event.
Ford later told the inquest how he tried to help victim, Ms Jones after she was stabbed.
He said: ‘She was lying on her side, she was bleeding, she wasn’t really moving’, adding: ‘I can’t bring myself to say it – I saw the attacker.’
After the factory worker walked free in May, the family of Amanda, from Ashford, believe Ford should ‘rot in prison’.
Jo added: ‘We wouldn’t want another family going through what we have gone through.
‘This man should rot in prison, life should mean life. Amanda can never have a life, so why should he?
Ford, 44, attended the same prisoner education event at Fishmonger’s Hall as Islamist knifeman Usman Khan, who was shot dead by police after fatally wounding Ms Jones and Mr Merritt
A jury at an inquest into the terror attack at Fishmongers’ Hall has found Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, were ‘unlawfully killed’ during an attack by convicted terrorist Usman Khan (pictured)
‘As a family this has brought it all back again, that dreadful day we found out Amanda got murdered.
‘We as Amanda’s family will continue to share his picture and hope to God he doesn’t strike again.’
Despite Ford being described in a Parole Board document as ‘willing to use violence and a weapon as a way of dealing with anger, rejection and stress’ at the time of his offending, he was regarded as ‘positive and compliant’ while at an open prison following rehabilitation programmes.
The document read: ‘After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in custody and the other evidence presented at the hearing, the panel was satisfied that Mr Ford was suitable for release when a suitable vacancy became available in designated accommodation.’
A Parole Board spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm that a panel of the Parole Board has directed the release of James Ford in May following an oral hearing.
‘Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.
‘A panel will carefully examine a huge range of evidence, including details of the original crime, and any evidence of behaviour change, as well as explore the harm done and impact the crime has had on the victims.
‘Members read and digest hundreds of pages of evidence and reports in the lead up to an oral hearing.
‘Evidence from witnesses including probation officers, psychiatrists and psychologists, officials supervising the offender in prison as well as victim personal statements are then given at the hearing.
‘The prisoner and witnesses are then questioned at length during the hearing which often lasts a full day or more.
‘Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.’
Khan strapped knives to his hands and wore a fake suicide belt during his attack on London Bridge.
He was tackled by a group who charged him down with a fire extinguisher and a narwhal tusk.
One of the men, Steven Gallant, a convicted murderer, tackled Khan to the floor during the incident. Khan was later shot dead by police.
Steven Gallant (pictured here with Jack Merritt), a convicted murderer, tackled Khan to the floor during the incident. Khan was later shot dead by police
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 the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland because of his bravery on London Bridge.
Earlier this year the parole board cleared Gallant for release on licence.
Vicky Foster, the ex-partner of Gallant’s victim, Mr Jackson, said she was ‘struggling to process’ the news of his release.
Source: Daily Mail UK