Sir David Amess: Ali Harbi Ali given whole life sentence for murder and planning terror attacks on other MPs

The terrorist said he didn’t ‘feel any shame’ about the killing

Holly Bancroft
Wednesday 13 April 2022 14:44 BST
Sir David Amess killer convicted of murder

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

The Isis-supporting terrorist who killed Sir David Amess will spend the rest of his life in jail for murdering the MP and plotting attacks on other politicians.

Ali Harbi Ali, 26, was given a rare whole life sentence for stabbing the Conservative politician to death on 15 October 2021 at a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

Sentencing Ali, Judge Sweeney called Sir David’s death a “loss of national significance”.

“Sir David had done nothing whatsoever to justify the attack on him,” he said. “On the contrary, he had devoted 38 years of his life to the service of the public.”

“This was a murder that struck at the heart of our democracy,” the judge said, adding that he had “no doubt” that Ali should be sentenced to a “whole-life order”.

The family of Sir David described his murder as “beyond evil”. In a statement read outside court, they said: “We will wake each day and immediately feel our loss.

“Our last thought before sleep with be of David. We shall never get over this tragedy.

“It breaks our heart to know that our husband and father would have greeted the murderer with a smile of friendship and would have been anxious to help. How sickening to think what happened next.”

David Amess ‘devoted 38 years of his life to the service of the public’ , judge says
David Amess ‘devoted 38 years of his life to the service of the public’ , judge says (AP)

Ali said that he had targeted Sir David because of his votes in favour of airstrikes on Syria.

The court heard witness statements from other MPs that Ali had considering attacking. Levelling up secretary Michael Gove described how he was visited by officers from Counter Terrorism Command and was told “that I had in fact been a potential target”.

MP Mike Freer said, since the news of the attack, he was “much more mindful of people around me.”

“I have been very aware I was potentially at risk from the individual responsible for the attack,” he said.

Julie Cushion, Sir David Amess’ aide, said that she “can never get that scream out of my mind when Sir David was attacked.”

Ali Harbi Ali in Westminister. He had planned attacks on other MPs, including the cabinet minister Michael Gove
Ali Harbi Ali in Westminister. He had planned attacks on other MPs, including the cabinet minister Michael Gove (PA)

Earlier in the week a jury at the Old Bailey took only 18 minutes to convict Ali Harbi Ali of murder and preparing acts of terrorism.

During the trial, jurors heard how Ali tricked his way into a meeting with Sir David by pretending to be an NHS employee who was moving to the area.

Just before the attack, Sir David noticed Ali fiddling with his phone and asked him whether he was recording the meeting but Ali said he was not and started talking to him about politics.

When Ali’s phone started ringing, he reached into his pocket for a knife and stabbed the father-of-five more than 20 times.

Ali told the police that the murder was a terror attack, adding: “I went into an MP’s surgery and I killed him, with the idea of vengeance.”

In court Ali said that he regretted “nothing”, adding: “I wouldn’t use the word shameless but I don’t feel any shame”.

He said that he had wanted to travel to Syria to join Isis but it was too “difficult” so he decided to “help Muslims here” instead.

Conservative MP David Amess with his pugs, Lily and Boat at the Westminster Dog of the Year competition
Conservative MP David Amess with his pugs, Lily and Boat at the Westminster Dog of the Year competition (PA)

“If I thought I did anything wrong, I wouldn’t have done it,” he added. Describing the attack, he said: “I felt like one minute I was sat down at the table talking to him and the next he was, sort of, dead.

“But, yeah, it’s probably one of the strangest days... of my life now, you know?”

Jurors were told how he also scoped out and planned attacks on other MPs, including Michael Gove.

Ali scouted the office of Finchely MP Mike Freer and also researched other politicians online, including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

The greeting desk at Belfairs Methodist Church on October 15 2021, where Sir David Amess was holding a constituency surgery when he was killed
The greeting desk at Belfairs Methodist Church on October 15 2021, where Sir David Amess was holding a constituency surgery when he was killed (PA)

Born in 1996, Ali grew up in Croydon with his mother, two sisters and a younger brother.

His father, Harbi Ali Kullane, had moved to the UK in the 1990s and was a former communications adviser to the prime minister of Somalia.

Ali attended Parish Church junior and infant school and, later in his school career, he was referred to the Prevent scheme due to his extremist views.

He went through the process, which is designed to lead people away from supporting extremist views, and was discharged. He dropped out of university in 2016 to focus on his increasingly violent beliefs.

Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer and Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving at the scene near the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Conservative MP Sir David Amess was killed
Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer and Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving at the scene near the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Conservative MP Sir David Amess was killed (PA)

Speaking about Ali’s attack, prosecutor Tom Little QC told the Old Bailey on Wednesday: “The planning here was long-standing, it was significant in terms of its extent and its duration.”

David Amess MP (4th left) leads the way as members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords battle it out in a pancake race yards from Parliament
David Amess MP (4th left) leads the way as members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords battle it out in a pancake race yards from Parliament (PA)

Julie Cushion, Sir David Amess’ aide, said that she “can never get that scream out of my mind when Sir David was attacked.”

She told Ali’s sentencing hearing that “the perpetrator’s face has stayed with me all the time. A look of smug, self satisfaction.”

She added that she had “a huge sense of guilt as I booked the venue”.

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