The parents of an Australian woman killed in the 2017 London Bridge terror attack have hit out at British authorities, accusing them of not learning anything from their daughter’s tragic death.
Sara Zelenak was among eight victims killed when three men drove into pedestrians, before getting out of their vehicle and stabbing innocent people.
Speaking to Sunrise on Monday morning Sara’s parents, Mark and Julie Wallace, said the devastating news of the latest attack in the same area has brought back painful memories.
“It immediately brings back all those horrific memories of when Sara was murdered,” Mr Wallace said.
When news came through on the weekend of the latest attack, he said it pushed he and his wife “into a bit of a depression.”
The parents have joined other critics in asserting that UK authorities should have been monitoring convicted terrorist Usman Khan when he murdered two people on London Bridge on Friday.
Wearing a fake suicide vest and wielding knives, Khan was eventually shot dead by police.
He was released from jail in December 2018 “on licence” after being convicted in 2012 of terrorism offences which means he had to meet conditions or face recall to prison. He was convicted of being part of an Al-Qaeda inspired plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange.
“They let him out early and he does it again,” Ms Wallace complained to Sunrise.
“We’ve got massive holes in our hearts that can never be healed.”
‘UK needs to make massive changes’
Since the death of their daughter, the pair have dedicated their lives to charity work for victims of terror, and were recently in France at a congress with others affected by terror attacks.
“For us that was like going to a three day funeral, it is so draining,” Ms Wallace said. “And we get back Thursday and then we get all these calls that there was another terror attack on the bridge where Sara was killed.
“The thing that hurts me so much is that we had to endure 10 weeks in June from the inquest (into the 2017 attack) and the chief coroner Mark Lucraft said that the UK needs to make massive changes,” she recalled.
“It’s so painful for us to do this 10-week inquest and then they make no change.”
Khan's rampage was brought to an end, in part, because of bystanders, who wrestled him to the ground before the police shot him dead.
The incident quickly brought back memories of the 2017 London Bridge attack that killed eight people and injured 48 others.
“Knife crime in the UK is horrendous,” Ms Wallace told the Seven Network. “That means everyone who travels … or even at home, is unsafe.”
Prisoner’s release ‘absolutely repulsive’
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he will strengthen prison sentences, vowing to boost security in the wake of the latest attack, which left 23-year-old Saskia Jones and fellow Cambridge University graduate Jack Merritt, 25, dead.
With less than two weeks before Britain heads to the polls, law and order has now raced to the top of the election agenda.
Johnson's Conservatives have long championed tough police and prison measures, but opposition parties have criticised the governing party for overseeing almost a decade of cuts to public services.
Trying to distance himself from those cuts, Johnson said if he won the December 12 election he would invest more money in the prison system and make sentences tougher.
“We are going to bring in tougher sentences for serious sexual and violent offenders, and for terrorists,” he told the BBC.
“I absolutely deplore the fact that this man was out on the street, I think it was absolutely repulsive and we are going to take action.”
The victims of the latest attack were taking part in a prisoner rehabilitation program, and the parents of victim Jack Merritt have said the last thing he would have wanted was tougher sentencing for those convicted of crimes.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.