Murderer or hero?


Graphic by Angelina Zheng

Sanchita Teeka, Forum Editor

Rarely do we ever use the words ‘murderer’ and ‘hero’ to describe one person. It may even seem illogical to do so, but these words were both used to describe a convicted murderer on day release, James Ford.

On Nov. 29, a stabbing took place on the London Bridge in Central London. The attacker, Usman Khan, stabbed five people, killing two of them. Usman Khan was formerly in prison in 2018 for terrorist offenses. On this date, he had been attending an offender rehabilitation, a program created to help offenders re-enter society after their release. 

Although under Khan’s terms of release he wasn’t allowed to enter London, he had been granted a one-day exemption for the event. To the event, he had worn a fake suicide vest and threatened to blow up the area. He began to stab people in the building with kitchen knives he had taped to his arms. He later fled the building and began to stab pedestrians on the London Bridge. In the building, a chef known as Lukasz was first to fight back. Lukasz grabbed the nearest weapon, a narwhal tusk from the wall to attack the offender. 

James Ford, on day release attending the same event as Khan, was also one of the men who rushed out to tackle Khan after the attack, helping save a girl from a potential stabbing. In 2004, Ford had murdered 21-year-old Amanda Champion, who was disabled and had the mental age of a 15-year-old. Ford had strangled her and slashed her across the throat in a random attack. He was caught after confessing to the murder 45 times to a confidential phoning service. 

The men who had tackled and attached Khan were all hailed as heroes by news outlets and on social media. However, the family of the victims says he was nothing of the sort. 

Angela Cox, Champion’s aunt, told the Daily Mail, “He is a murderer out on day release, which us as a family didn’t know anything about. He murdered a disabled girl. He is not a hero, absolutely not.”

The pain caused to Champion’s family cannot be taken lightly; they will never be able to get her back. The life Champion could’ve led is gone and she can never be replaced. This makes it understandable how difficult it would be for the family to ever forgive Ford, which is something they have no obligation to do in the first place – even if he has changed.

This begs the question, is James Ford a murderer or a hero? There is not an easy answer to this question, especially when considering the fact that he took a life in 2004 but now in 2019 has saved a life. I would say he is both and neither at the same time. He did commit a terrible deed but again did help save a girl.

I think this incident goes to show that people are capable of change and we shouldn’t take people at face value. Although Ford had committed a terrible act that cannot be undone, he has tried to better himself and even helped save a life. I believe this message can be implemented into our daily lives as well; just because we have done bad things in the past, doesn’t mean we can’t do good things in the future. While benevolent actions cannot replace malevolent actions, they can help us change and better ourselves. The past can’t be changed, but we have the means to change our future.