David Amess: Camden murder accused was ‘warped, twisted and violent’

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Ali Harbi Ali in the dock at the Old Bailey

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Ali Harbi Ali in the dock at the Old Bailey in London accused of stabbing to death Sir David Amess, the Conservative MP for Southend West - Credit: PA

A veteran Conservative MP was “assassinated” by a “committed, fanatical, radicalised Islamist terrorist”, the Old Bailey has heard.

Sir David Amess was stabbed to death in the church building in Leigh-on-Sea where he was holding a constituency surgery on October 15 last year.

Ali Harbi Ali, of Kentish Town, allegedly tricked his way into a face-to-face meeting with the 69-year-old Southend West MP at Belfairs Methodist Church.

During that meeting, it's alleged that Ali produced a large knife from his pocket and repeatedly stabbed the father-of-five - who originally hailed from Plaistow.

The 26-year-old stands accused of his “cold and calculated murder” - a charge he denies.

Sir David Amess. Ali Harbi Ali is due to go on trial at the Old Bailey accused of murdering the veteran Conservative MP

Sir David Amess. Ali Harbi Ali has gone on trial at the Old Bailey accused of murdering the veteran Conservative MP as he held meetings with constituents in a church building last year - Credit: PA

The defendant further denies preparing acts of terrorism between May 1, 2019 and September 28, 2021.

Trial proceedings got underway at the Old Bailey today (March 21).

Jurors heard that Ali allegedly carried out reconnaissance over several years on targets, including the communities and levelling up secretary Michael Gove.

Tom Little QC, opening the case at the Central Criminal Court, said: “This was nothing less than an assassination for terrorist purposes.

“It is a crime to which, we say, he has no defence.”

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Mr Little added: “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 said the attack was “no spur-of-the-moment decision”, and claimed he bought the knife used to attack Sir David five years earlier.

The prosecutor said: “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 court heard that Ali had lied when he emailed to request an appointment with Sir David, claiming he was moving into the area and providing a postcode.

Mr Little told jurors that, on the day of the attack, Ali appeared “relaxed and chatty” as he walked over to Sir David just before fatally stabbing him.

During the meeting, the defendant’s mobile reportedly made a sound, after which Ali said “sorry” before pulling out a knife and repeatedly stabbing Sir David in a “vicious and frenzied attack”.

Mr Little further claimed that two people arriving for the next appointment heard the MP’s aides’ shouting: “Help me. He’s been stabbed. There’s a man with a knife.”

Meanwhile, Ali allegedly waved a bloody knife around, saying: “I killed him, I killed him.”

Sir David was lying unconscious and the defendant apparently warned: “Don’t come anywhere near me. I will stab you.”

The pair offered to go and see Sir David but Ali told them: “No, don’t come nearer. I’ll go and finish him off if he’s not dead.”

The defendant reportedly declared: “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.”

It's claimed that Ali was then heard on the phone saying: “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.”

Ali then reportedly refused to drop his knife, saying he wanted to be shot, and wanted to die "a hero".

Mr Little claimed that around the time of the murder, the defendant sent a long message to friends and family with a video relating to Raqqa in Syria.

Ali appeared in the dock wearing a black robe and black-rimmed glasses.

The trial continues.