MP’s killer to die in prison after getting whole-life term

Unrepentant Ali Harbi Ali was handed the punishment for the murder of Sir David Amess.

Ryan Hooper
Wednesday 13 April 2022 14:05
Mr Justice Sweeney (left) handing down a whole life sentence at the Old Bailey in London, to Ali Harbi Ali (right) (Elizabeth Cook/PA)
Mr Justice Sweeney (left) handing down a whole life sentence at the Old Bailey in London, to Ali Harbi Ali (right) (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

The homegrown terrorist who murdered veteran MP Sir David Amess in a warped retaliation against politicians who voted to bomb Syria will die in jail after being handed a whole-life prison term.

Unrepentant Ali Harbi Ali pursed his lips briefly but otherwise showed little emotion as Mr Justice Sweeney handed down his sentence at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.

It means he joins a handful of prisoners who will never be released from prison.

The judge told 26-year-old Ali: “The defendant has no remorse or shame for what he has done – quite the reverse.

“This is a murder that struck at the heart of democracy.”

Members of Sir David’s family wiped away tears during the 40-minute hearing, and turned to watch Ali as he was sent down to begin his sentence.

In a statement issued through police afterwards, they said: “There is no elation in our family today following this sentencing.

“Our amazing husband and father has been taken from us in an appalling and violent manner.

“Nothing will ever compensate for that.”

Ali Harbi Ali (Metropolitan Police/PA)

MPs who had once been in Ali’s crosshairs provided victim impact statements in which they described how their lives had been impacted, with Finchley MP Mike Freer saying he and his staff will now wear stab vests and panic alarms for community surgeries.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said he had been at home in west London when Ali carried out armed reconnaissance outside in the months prior to attacking Sir David, saying it had “a very disruptive effect on my family”.

He said: “Our security and that of our home was threatened and that has put a profound pressure on our lives.”

Fellow Conservative Mr Freer said: “Since the news of the attack and the subsequent visit by police, I have been much more mindful of people around me and keeping distance from people.

“I have been very aware that I was potentially at risk from the individual responsible for the attack and this has played on my mind on occasion.”

The judge described Sir David’s death as a loss “of national significance”.

Ali Harbi Ali, after being arrested (Metropolitan Police/PA)

He added: “He had done nothing whatsoever to justify the attack upon him, let alone his murder.

“On the contrary, he had devoted 38 years of his life to the lawful service of the public, and was engaged in doing so when he was murdered.”

Current whole-lifers include sexual predator Wayne Couzens, who raped and murdered Sarah Everard, and far-right extremist Thomas Mair, who murdered Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016.

University dropout Ali, from Kentish Town in north London, was convicted of murder and preparing terrorist acts on Monday by jurors who spent just 18 minutes in retirement.

Prosecutors described the case as “overwhelming”, and Ali himself did not dispute much of the evidence.

He did not have a defence in law to murder, either, but denying the offence allowed him to give evidence from the witness box in which he sought to justify his actions.

Tracy Ayling QC, for Ali, told the court she had been instructed by her client not to say anything to the court in mitigation.

The so-called Islamic State fanatic carried out his attack at the backbench Conservative MP’s constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15 last year.

Sir David’s family said: “It breaks our heart to know that our husband and father would have greeted the murderer with a smile of friendship.”

A photograph of Sir David Amess (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Matt Jukes said outside the court: “It’s clear that the man who begins a life sentence today is a cold, calculated and dangerous individual.

“Sir David was callously and senselessly murdered, working in his constituency as he had done over a distinguished political career of nearly 40 years.”

He added: “Sir David’s murder was an attack on democracy, and we will never let terrorists prevail.”

Ali told the trial he had no regrets about the murder, defending his actions by saying Sir David deserved to die because he had voted in Parliament for air strikes on Syria in 2014 and 2015.

The court heard that Ali became known to authorities around this time as his school performance plunged and he was referred to the Government’s Prevent strategy, but continued plotting in secret.

The so-called “lone wolf” sent a manifesto on WhatsApp to family and friends seeking to justify his actions around the time of the attack, and told father-of-five Sir David he was “sorry” before plunging the 12in carving knife into him, causing the 69-year-old politician to scream.

Sir David received more than 20 stab injuries and died at the scene.

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

Dramatic footage of the stand-off was captured on police bodyworn cameras.

The two officers have since been handed bravery awards.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told the PA news agency MPs and political staff remain “traumatised” by the atrocity, and continue to struggle amid fears for their security.

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