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Sir David Amess ‘killer’ carried out reconnaissance trip at Michael Gove’s home, court hears 

A ‘twisted Islamist terrorist’ accused of murdering Sir David Amess had considered killing an MP for years and carried out six separate reconnaissance trips to Michael Gove‘s home where he hoped to ‘bump into him jogging’, the Old Bailey heard today. 

Ali Harbi Ali had also carried out ‘research’ on Dominic Raab and Keir Starmer before allegedly stabbing Sir David to death at a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex on 15 October last year. 

The 26-year-old appeared ‘relaxed and chatty’ when he arrived at Belfairs Methodist Church and began talking to the MP for Southend West about the Iraq War, the Old Bailey heard. 

Ali’s phone then made a notification sound and he said ‘sorry’ before pulling out a knife he had bought from Argos five years earlier and stabbing the father of five 21 times as he desperately tried to defend himself, it is claimed. 

Two constituents who came on the scene found the killer waving the 21-inch blade while shouting ‘I killed him, I killed him’ before telling them it was because the MP had ‘voted to bomb Syria’, the court heard. 

The jury heard Ali assumed that firearms officers would arrive on the scene and ‘shoot him dead as a martyr’, but was instead confronted only by two plain clothes officers from Essex Police who pinned him down.

Ali went to the constituency surgery of Labour Mike Freer a month before Sir David’s death, the Old Bailey heard. 

He also visited the Houses of Parliament, according to prosecutor Mark Little QC. ‘Being blunt about it, he’s not a tourist … looking at Big Ben and taking some photographs,’ he said. 

As the suspected denied murder and preparing for terrorist acts, the court also heard:    

  • Ali researched and planned potential attacks on MPs from at least May 2019; 
  • A note entitled ‘Plans’ on his phone from 2019 appeared to examine possible options for attacking Mr Gove, including one which said: ‘Bump into him jogging, best outcome’;
  • Tricked his way into meeting Sir David by pretending to be one of his constituents; 
  • ‘Irritated’ the MP by ‘what Sir David could do for the town’ when surgery was only about ‘specific issues’; 
  • ‘This is a case involving a cold and calculated murder’, prosecutor said; 
  • Sir David suffered 21 stab wounds to his face, arms, legs and torso, as well as defensive injuries; 
  • Ali told two constituents who arrived on the scene, ‘I’ll go and finish him off if he’s not dead’; 
  • ‘Killer’ had a conversation with a woman on speakerphone, who was ‘screaming’: ‘Why have you done it?’;
  • Ali wanted to be ‘shot, killed, a martyr for the terrorist cause’ but was met with two unarmed local PCs; 
  • ‘Killer’ decided his target would be the ‘523 MPs who carried out a vote to carry out airstrikes in Syria’;
  • Identified them on theyworkforus.com and had visited Mike Freer MP’s constituency surgery in Finchley.; 
  • Knife Ali took with him had a 12-inch blade which he bought from Argos five years earlier; 
  • Mr Little said Ali was alleged to have had a conversation with a woman on speakerphone, who was ‘screaming’ at him: ‘Why have you done it?’ 

Ali Harbi Ali, 26, appeared in the dock at courtroom two at the Old Bailey today wearing a collar-free black robe and black-rimmed glasses

Sir David Amess was stabbed to death at a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex on 15 October last year

Sir David Amess was stabbed to death at a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex on 15 October last year

‘Killer’s years of sinister research on MPs’ and ‘planning trip’ to Parliament 

Ali carried out ‘research’ on MPs including Justice Secretary Dominic Raab and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer as he scoped for a target, prosecutor Tom Little told the Old Bailey today. 

The prosecution claim the alleged killer also carried a series of reconnaissance visits to homes and offices belonging to prominent politicians, including – 

SIX VISITS TO MICHAEL GOVE’S HOUSE 

Mr Little said evidence suggested Ali made six separate trips ‘scoping out’ Mr Gove’s house in West London in 2021.

Evidence recovered from Ali’s phone also suggested he had been on Mr Gove’s road, the court heard.

A note entitled ‘Plans’ on his phone from 2019 also appeared to examine possible options for attacking Mr Gove, the court heard, including one which said: ‘Bump into him jogging, best outcome’.

VISIT TO LABOUR MP’S CONSTITUENCY SURGERY A MONTH BEFORE SIR DAVID’S DEATH

Ali carried out research on Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer, including turning up at one of his constituent surgeries on September 17 2021, a month before Sir David was stabbed, it is claimed. 

Mr Little said: ‘He (Ali) was seen that day by Rachel Shawcross, Mike Freer’s election agent.

‘She saw a person matching the defendant’s description staring in to the surgery.’

Mr Little said: ‘Not only did the defendant go to locations, a home address and a surgery address, but he also conducted reconnaissance at the Houses of Parliament.’    

‘TERRORIST PLANNING’ TRIP TO PARLIAMENT  

The prosecution said mobile phone data placed Ali in the proximity of the Houses of Parliament seven times between July and September 2021.

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

‘This is terrorist planning.’ 

Ali appeared in court today wearing a collar-free black robe and black-rimmed glasses. 

He was accompanied by three security guards, with members of Sir David’s family sitting in the well of the court.

Addressing the jury, prosecutor Tom Little QC said he had planned to attack an MP for at least two years.  

‘He did not make a spur of the moment decision – it was not the first time that he had planned an attack or a similar attack,’ Mr Little said. ‘Indeed, he bought the knife five years before for just such an attack.

‘He had for a number of years been determined to carry out an act of domestic terrorism.

‘To that end, from at least May 2019 he researched and planned potential attacks on Members of Parliament and the Houses of Parliament.

‘This included specific reconnaissance trips to a constituency surgery of Mike Freer MP and to the home address of Michael Gove MP.

‘That researching and planning is the other offence he faces, namely preparing for acts of terrorism. To that offence he also has, we say, no defence.’

The prosecutor said: ‘The man that was brutally murdered by this defendant was Sir David Amess MP.

‘He had been a member of Parliament for many years, at the very time that he was attacked by this defendant he was meeting constituents.

‘The defendant tricked his way into meeting Sir David Amess by pretending to be one of his constituents when he was not.

‘Having arranged the meeting by fraud, he travelled across London armed with the knife that he was to use to murder Sir David Amess.

‘This was nothing less than an assassination for terrorist purposes. It is a crime to which, we say, he has no defence.’  

Mr Little described the victim as ‘simply doing his job, helping members of the public’ when he was attacked.     

He said: ‘This is a case involving a cold and calculated murder, a murder carried out in a place of worship.

‘A murder carried out because of a warped and twisted and violent ideology.

‘It was a murder carried out by that young man (Ali) who for many years had been planning just such an attack and who was, and is, a committed, fanatical, radicalised Islamist terrorist.’ 

Mr Little, prosecuting, said Ali arrived at the constituency surgery meeting where he appeared ‘relaxed and chatty’.

The court heard Ali kept using his telephone, but assured Sir David he was not recording their conversation.

Ali then told Sir David he moved to the area recently, and ‘irritated’ him by asking the long-term MP ‘what Sir David could do for the town’.

Ali's phone then made a notification sound and he said 'sorry' before pulling out a knife and stabbing the father of five to death, the court heard

Ali’s phone then made a notification sound and he said ‘sorry’ before pulling out a knife and stabbing the father of five to death, the court heard 

Ali carried out reconnaissance at Michael Gove's house, the Old Bailey heard

Ali carried out reconnaissance at Michael Gove’s house, the Old Bailey heard 

Mr Little said: ‘The surgery was meant for people with particular issues, not general conversation.

‘However, the defendant then said he wanted to talk about foreign affairs.

‘He said that he knew Sir David had initially supported the Iraq war but had changed his mind. Sir David looked confused at this.’ 

Mr Little said Ali’s phone then made a notification sound, and the attack began.

Mr Little said: ‘The defendant said ‘sorry’ and then pulled out a knife and stabbed Sir David Amess.

‘Sir David screamed. The defendant stabbed him again. Indeed, he stabbed him multiple times in a vicious and frenzied attack.’

Two members of Sir David’s staff, Rebecca Hayton and Julie Cushion, then called for help.

The court heard Yvonne Eaves and Darren King, who arrived on the scene for their own meeting with Sir David, then saw Ali waving a bloodied knife and saying: ‘I killed him.’

Mr Little said: ‘When Yvonne Eaves and Darren King offered to go and see Sir David, the defendant said this: ‘No don’t come nearer. I’ll go and finish him off if he’s not dead’.’

Ali is then alleged to have said: ‘I want him dead.

‘I want every Parliament Minister (sic) who signed up for the bombing of Syria, who agreed to the Iraqi war, to die.’

Ali stared straight ahead in court as a section of Ms Eaves’ 999 call was played in court.

Mr Little said Ali was alleged to have had a conversation with a woman on speakerphone, who was ‘screaming’ at him: ‘What have you done it?’

Ali is alleged to have mentioned Syria in his reply.

Returning after the lunch break, Mr Little said Ali had carried out a ‘revenge attack done, he was claiming, in the name of Allah’.

Mr Little said: ‘This was the use of serious violence designed to intimidate the public and to influence the Government for the purposes of advancing both a religious and ideological cause – a murder, we say, therefore done for terrorist purposes.’

The court heard Ali assumed that firearms officers would arrive on the scene, but was instead confronted only by two plain clothes officers from Essex Police.

Mr Little said: ‘The defendant hoped that he would be shot, killed, a martyr for the terrorist cause. However, this was not outside the Houses of Parliament, Central London, but Leigh-on-Sea and the first police attenders were not firearms officers but Pc Scott James and Pc Ryan Curtis.

‘They were on duty in plain clothes when they heard on their radio that a man had been stabbed numerous times.’

The court heard the knife Ali (pic today) took with him to Leigh-on-Sea had a 12-inch blade which he bought from Argos five years earlier, potentially for terrorist purposes 

Mr Little said the pair, armed only with a baton and incapacitant spray, ‘bravely decided’ to enter the building after hearing of Sir David’s injuries.

A section of bodyworn camera footage showed police officers Ryan Curtis and Scott James in a short, tense confrontation with the armed Ali within the church building.

One of the officers could be heard yelling: ‘Drop that knife.’

Ali, seen in the middle of the room, was then told: ‘It’s only going to go one way, please drop that knife.’

The police officers then managed to pin Ali to the floor and arrested him.

Ali showed no emotion in the dock as the brief clip was played. 

The court heard a post-mortem examination showed Sir David suffered 21 stab wounds to his face, arms, legs and torso, as well as injuries to both hands that were consistent with defending himself.

Tom Little QC said Ali decided his target would be the ‘523 MPs who carried out a vote to carry out airstrikes in Syria’.

He identified them using the website theyworkforus.com, Mr Little said. 

He said Ali initially visited Mike Freer MP’s constituency surgery in Finchley.

The prosecutor said: ‘That, of course, was a lot closer to home. He also identified from looking at ”journalistic pictures” the home address of Michael Gove MP.

‘He decided against attacking Mr Gove as he learned Mr Gove had split up from his wife and the house had got sold.’ 

Ali turned up at Mr Freer’s constituency surgeries on September 17 2021, a month before Sir David was stabbed, the court heard. 

Mr Little said: ‘He (Ali) was seen that day by Rachel Shawcross, Mike Freer’s election agent.

Ali was a 'committed, fanatical' terrorist, the Old Bailey heard

Ali was a ‘committed, fanatical’ terrorist, the Old Bailey heard 

‘She saw a person matching the defendant’s description staring in to the surgery.’

Mr Little said: ‘Not only did the defendant go to locations, a home address and a surgery address, but he also conducted reconnaissance at the Houses of Parliament.’

He said Ali carried out further research in September 2021 on the likes of the current Justice Secretary Dominic Raab and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer QC.

He then accessed the Wikipedia page for Southend-on-Sea, the Wikipedia page for Sir David Amess, and then, on September 27 and 29, Sir David’s own website, the court heard.

He used National Rail Enquiries and TheTrainline to search for a journey from Barking to Leigh-on-Sea on October 14, it was claimed. 

Meanwhile, mobile phone data placed Ali in the proximity of the Houses of Parliament seven times between July and September 2021.

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

‘This is terrorist planning.’ 

The court heard Ali gave a number of interviews with police.

In one, Ali is alleged to have recalled the attack on Sir David.

Ali is alleged to have said: ‘I just remember stabbing him a few times in the places where I stabbed him and I think the ‘finisher’ was probably on his neck … at that point I knew that unless the ambulance gets here within the next second, he’s gonna bleed out.’

He added: ‘You don’t send off a bunch of messages saying that you’re committing a terror attack if you don’t actually commit a terrorist attack.’ 

Mr Little said evidence suggested Ali made six separate trips ‘scoping out’ Mr Gove’s house. 

Evidence recovered from Ali’s phone also suggested he had been on Mr Gove’s road, the court heard.

A note entitled ‘Plans’ on his phone from 2019 also appeared to examine possible options for attacking Mr Gove, the court heard, including one which said: ‘Bump into him jogging, best outcome’.  

The court heard the knife Ali took with him to Leigh-on-Sea had a 12-inch blade which he bought from Argos five years earlier, potentially for terrorist purposes. 

Mr Little said mental health did not form any part of Ali’s defence.

‘What the defendant did and what he intended were within his control,’ he said. ‘In short, he was responsible for his actions.’ 

Concluding the prosecution opening, Mr Little said: ‘At the time of the killing and in interview, the defendant made clear, crystal clear, that the killing of Sir David was in revenge.

‘In other words, that he had taken the law into his own hands despite living in a democratic society. That is, we say, no defence.’

Mr Little said the law ‘does not tolerate vigilantes’ or terrorists.

Mr Justice Sweeney swore in jurors this morning, telling them it was their job to assess the evidence ‘coolly, calmly, carefully and dispassionately’, and ‘guard against any emotion intruding’.

He warned them against allowing themselves to be influenced by media reports or comment elsewhere on the internet.

Ali denies murder and one count of preparing acts of terrorism between May 1, 2019 and September 28, last year.

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow. It is due to last for up to three weeks.          


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