UK

Terror suspect killed MP in ‘vicious and frenzied attack’ after targeting Michael Gove, court hears

MP Sir David Amess was killed in a “vicious and frenzied attack” by a “fanatical terrorist” who had previously targeted the home of Michael Gove, a court has heard.

Ali Harbi Ali “hoped that he would become a martyr” after stabbing to death the Conservative MP for Southend West, a jury was told.

Sir David was holding meetings with constituents in a church building in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, when he was fatally stabbed on 15 October.

As it happened: Updates from the opening day of the Sir David Amess murder trial

Ali Harbi Ali
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Ali Harbi Ali denies murder and preparing acts of terrorism

The final moments of the MP’s death were detailed before jurors at the Old Bailey, where Ali is on trial for murder and preparing acts of terrorism.

The 26-year-old denies the charges.

Opening the prosecution’s case, Tom Little QC said the “cold and calculated murder” of Sir David was “carried out because of a warped and twisted and violent ideology”.

More on Ali Harbi Ali

The prosecutor told the court: “It was a murder carried out by a young man who for many years had been planning just such an attack and who was, and is, a committed, fanatical, radicalised Islamist terrorist.”

Man accused of MP’s murder ‘scoped out’ Gove’s home

The court heard how Ali had researched the likes of deputy prime minister Dominic Raab, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace before Sir David’s death, as well as making six separate trips “scoping out” Mr Gove’s home address.

Ali allegedly made notes on plans to attack Mr Gove – including one where he would “bump into him jogging” – but decided not to target him after the cabinet minister split from his wife and their home was sold, the jury was told.

Mobile phone data also placed Ali in the proximity of the Houses of Parliament seven times between July and September 2021.

Mr Little said: “Being blunt about it, he’s not a tourist… looking at Big Ben and taking some photographs.

“This is terrorist planning.”

Murder suspect said Sir David Amess ‘deserved to die’

Mr Little said Ali had arranged a meeting with Sir David at his constituency surgery “under false pretences” and provided a Southend address, when he in fact lived near Kentish Town, north London.

Ali appeared “relaxed and chatty” when he arrived for the meeting and then proceeded to tell Sir David he knew the MP had initially supported the Iraq war but had changed his mind, the court heard.

Armed police officers outside the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Conservative MP Sir David Amess has reportedly been stabbed several times at a constituency surgery. Essex Police have said a man has been arrested and officers are not looking for anyone else. Picture date: Friday October 15, 2021.
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Armed police officers outside Belfairs Methodist Church after Sir David’s death

Ali said “sorry” and then pulled out a knife and stabbed Sir David, the jury was told.

Mr Little said: “Sir David screamed. The defendant stabbed him again. Indeed, he stabbed him multiple times in a vicious and frenzied attack.”

Ali launched the assault after his phone, placed on the table between him and Sir David, made a notification sound, jurors heard.

A post-mortem examination showed Sir David had suffered 21 stab wounds.

Yvonne Eaves and Darren King, who were at the church for their own meeting with Sir David, saw Ali waving a bloodied knife and saying “I killed him”, the court was told.

The court heard that Ali had said he wanted “every parliament minister who signed up for the bombing of Syria, who agreed to the Iraqi war, to die”.

Sir David Amess was killed on Friday
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Sir David Amess had been an MP since 1983 until his death

After the attack on Sir David, the defendant allegedly said: “I’ve done it because of Syria. I’ve done it because of the innocent people. I’ve done it because of the bombing. He deserved to die.”

When he was asked if he was going to drop the knife, Ali allegedly replied: “No, because I want to be shot” and “I’m going to die. I want to die, I want to be a hero.”

Mr Little said: “The defendant plainly assumed and hoped that he would become a martyr to his twisted cause.”

He added that the “attack itself was an attack on democracy by killing an elected representative”.

Police bodycam footage played to the court showed Ali holding a knife before he was arrested by two plain-clothed officers who were first to respond to the scene, armed only with a baton and a substance similar to pepper spray.

Members of Sir David’s family attended the trial, with one of his daughters crying as details of the attack on her father were outlined by the prosecutor.

Ali, dressed in a black robe and wearing glasses, sat impassively throughout the hearing, while flanked by three security officers in the dock.

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.

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