HMP Whitemoor attack: Jailed terror plotter given life sentence for launching Isis-inspired attack inside high-security prison

Judge says it was no accident that ‘ferocious’ asault happened weeks after similar London Bridge terror attack by a released prisoner

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
Thursday 08 October 2020 21:30
Footage of ‘terror attack’ by prisoners at HMP Whitemoor

A jailed terror plotter has been given a new life sentence for launching an Isis-inspired attack inside a high-security jail.

Brusthom Ziamani, 25, was convicted of attempting to murder a prison officer in what a judge called a “strikingly and shockingly ferocious assault” at HMP Whitemoor.

Mrs Justice May DBE said it was “no accident” that the attack on 9 January came week after the deadly stabbing by Usman Khan at Fishmongers’ Hall in London.

Khan had also served time at HMP Whitemoor and, like Ziamani and his accomplice Baz Hockton, wore a fake suicide belt during the rampage.

Mrs Justice May told the Old Bailey the jury had rejected the pair’s denials that the assault was a terror attack, and that Ziamani had merely wanted to force prison authorities to move him to a different jail.

“It is quite clear to me that the defendants must have been planning this terrorist operation for some time, preparing fake suicide belts and multiple weapons,” the judge said.

“It is no accident the attack came just weeks after the London Bridge attack in November 2019 ...  these defendants, inside prison, did not have ready access to weapons or explosives but did their utmost to plan and execute a terrorist attack using such materials as they could find.”

Mrs Justice May found that the offences had a terrorist connection, and said “nothing had changed” with Ziamani’s ideology despite him being eight months into a programme designed to address extremist beliefs at the time of the attack.

She gave Ziamani a life sentence with a minimum term of 21 years for attempted murder, with two years and four months to be served concurrently for assaulting a female prison officer and nurse who tried to intervene.

Ziamani, who wore Islamic dress for his sentencing on Thursday, showed no emotion as he was sent down to the Old Bailey’s cells.

Hockton was jailed for life with a minimum term of 23 years for attempted murder, after the court heard he had a long history of violence and weapon possession offences. Last year, he slashed a fellow inmate at HMP Swaleside in the face after accusing him of stealing his belongings. 

The Old Bailey heard how the men launched a brutal attack on prison officer Neil Trundle using homemade weapons and wearing fake suicide vests.

Prison officers restraining two inmates after a terror attack at HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire on 9 January 2020

They both shouted “Allahu akbar” during the attack, while Ziamani was carrying a translation of an Isis suicide bomber’s last words in his pocket.

Ziamani was serving a 19-year sentence for plotting another Isis-inspired terror attack, where he planned to behead a British soldier in 2015.

Hockton was in prison for a series of violent assaults, both inside and outside prison, where he had stabbed and slashed several victims.

The court heard that Hockton had converted to Islam while in prison, and that his faith “had been corrupted into extremism and he had been radicalised”.

Ziamani, who first met Hockton through criminal associates in 2013, is also a convert and was previously part of the banned al-Muhajiroun Islamist network.

Both men had hoarded extremist material in their cells, including references to martyrdom and Isis propaganda, and had gained access to an illicit SD card and mobile phone.

Hockton had a prayer asking Allah to make “me and you of the best shuhada [martyrs] very very very soon”.

The handwritten note that Ziamani carried in his pocket during the terror attack included the line: “O Muslims, know the kuffar [disbelievers] are not safe wherever they are in their streets, offices, entertainment hubs … their blood is not protected so there is no sin upon a Muslim who slays them.”

Brusthom Ziamani was convicted of attempting to kill a prison officer during the HMP Whitemoor terror attack in January 2020

The Old Bailey heard that they asked a prison officer for a spoon “as a ruse” to make him go to a storage cupboard, where they hoped to force him inside and murder him.

Mr Trundle managed to resist being pushed in and shouted for help as the pair started to rain down blows on his head, neck and chest with bladed weapons.

Ziamani and Hockton then attacked and chased off two prison officers and a nurse who ran to the aid of their colleague.

Ziamani opened up his jacket to reveal a fake suicide vest and shouted “I’ve got a bomb”, and attempted to continue the assault on Mr Trundle before they were both overpowered.

Jurors were shown CCTV footage and a video from Mr Trundle’s body-worn camera showing him screaming for help, as well as graphic photos of blood splattered up the wall and covering the floor where he fell.

Mr Trundle, who was treated in hospital for lacerations to his head, shoulder and arms, was described as a “kind and helpful” prison officer who had been working in jails for more than 17 years and had no dispute with either attacker.

Prosecutor Annabel Darlow QC said Mr Trundle and the female officer and nurse injured had suffered “long-lasting and traumatic consequences on their own lives of the incident”.

She said that none of the three victims had been able to return to work, and that other prison officers who attended the scene needed counselling after seeing Mr Trundle’s injuries and the attackers’ fake suicide belts.

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