David Amess: Terrorist convicted of 'cold and calculating' murder

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

Ali Harbi Ali, 26, has been found guilty of stabbing Sir David Amess to death on October 15 last year - Credit: PA

A terrorist from Kentish Town has been found guilty of murdering Sir David Amess in a "cold and calculating" attack. 

Jurors at the Old Bailey found that Ali Harbi Ali had fatally attacked the Plaistow-born Southend West MP during a constituency surgery on October 15 last year.

The 26-year-old - described in the proceedings as "warped and twisted" - told the court he had no regrets about the murder.

He defended his actions by saying Sir David deserved to die as a result of voting in Parliament for air strikes on Syria in 2014 and 2015.

A jury deliberated for just 18 minutes to find Ali guilty of murder and preparing for terrorist acts.

The court heard that the 26-year-old sent a manifesto on WhatsApp to family and friends around the time of the attack, telling Sir David he was “sorry” before plunging the knife into him.

Knife-wielding Ali was later apprehended by two police officers armed only with batons and spray.

Essex Police Chief Superintendent Simon Anslow praised his officers’ “astounding bravery” in tackling the terrorist at the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea.

Director of public prosecutions Max Hill QC described the murder as “the most appalling tragedy” which represented an “attack on democracy”.

The Old Bailey heard how London-born Ali had become self-radicalised in 2014, a path which saw him drop out of university and abandon ambitions for a career in medicine.

The defendant considered travelling to Syria to fight but by 2019 opted for an attack in Britain.

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Ali bought a £20 knife from Argos six years ago which he carried in his bag throughout the summer of 2021 as he “scoped out” possible targets, jurors heard.

He carried out reconnaissance on the Houses of Parliament but found police there “armed to the teeth”.

Ali carried out online research on MPs including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

He staked out the west London home of Levelling Up Secretary Mr Gove six times and wrote detailed notes on how he might get to him.

Scenarios included mingling with media, bumping into him jogging, ringing his doorbell, and causing a scene to “lure” him out.

Ali rejected the plan after Mr Gove split up with his wife and was thought to have moved out of the family home.

He was later to tell police: “It was… so convenient to go to that address but I just, I don’t know why I didn’t do that one.”

The terrorist had also been spotted lurking outside the constituency office of Finchley MP Mike Freer.

By September last year, Ali had settled on Sir David as an easy target after seeing his upcoming surgery in Leigh-on-Sea on Twitter.

He made an appointment through the MP’s office, falsely claiming he was moving to the area and was interested in churches.

On the morning of October 15 last year, he was caught on chilling CCTV as he made his way by foot and train to Essex.

Within minutes of meeting Sir David, Ali pulled out a 12in carving knife and stabbed him more than 20 times.

He waved the bloody knife and threatened to kill the MP’s two female aides and a couple who had arrived for their appointment.

Sir David’s assistant Julie Cushion told jurors he appeared “self-satisfied” in the wake of the brutal killing.

In police interview, he spoke calmly about his terror plot and admitted allegiance to so-called Islamic State.

Jurors were told Ali had no mental health issues and he accepted much of the evidence against him - despite pleading not guilty to the murder.

He will be sentenced on Wednesday (April 13).

Father-of-five Sir David was killed five years after Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox was murdered in her constituency.