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Sir David Amess murder: Ali Harbi Ali given whole-life sentence

IS fanatic Ali Harbi Ali has been given a whole-life sentence for murdering Sir David Amess MP.

Ali stabbed the Conservative MP for Southend West more than 20 times after tricking his way into a constituency surgery in Essex last year.

Sir David’s family said it broke their hearts that he would have “greeted the murderer with a smile of friendship”.

At the Old Bailey, Judge Mr Justice Sweeney said: “This was a murder that struck at the heart of our democracy.”

Sir David, 69, was killed at the surgery he was holding at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on 15 October.

He was stabbed after 26-year-old Ali had gone into the meeting pretending to be an NHS employee moving to the area.

Ali, from Kentish Town in north London, told the court he had plans to target various MPs, including cabinet minister Michael Gove.

He told his trial he was motivated by a desire to seek revenge against MPs who had voted for airstrikes on Syria.

Members of Sir David’s family wiped away tears during the 40-minute hearing.

After sentencing, they said they felt “no elation” in a statement issued through the Metropolitan Police.

They added: “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. It is beyond evil.”

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

Ali pursed his lips briefly but otherwise showed little emotion as the judge handed down his sentence.

“The defendant has no remorse or shame for what he has done – quite the reverse,” said the judge.

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

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.”

MPs who had once been on Ali’s list of potential targets provided victim impact statements in which they described the effect it had had on their lives.

Mike Freer, Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, said he and his staff would now wear stab vests and panic alarms for constituency 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.

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

The jury took just 18 minutes on Monday to convict Ali of murder and preparing acts of terrorism.

During the trial, he said he had no regrets or shame, saying: “If I thought I did anything wrong, I wouldn’t have done it”.

The court was told he had planned to die as a “martyr”, assuming he would be shot by police.

Julie Cushion, a long-standing aide and friend of Sir David who was at the church, shared her anguish about the killing and said she still felt guilt and anger.

In an impact statement read by the prosecution, she said: “I can still see and hear the sounds and images of the time, like the crashing of furniture.

“I remember the awful feeling of distress while we waited for help – feeling helpless and hopeless as there was nothing I could physically do to help.”

Haunted

She said the look on Ali’s face – “smug, so self-satisfied” – had stayed with her.

She said she was now working for the constituency’s new MP and was haunted by the fear of a similar attack.

Conservative Anna Firth, who won the by-election in February, welcomed Ali’s whole-life sentence.

She said Sir David’s “incredible work and legacy will live on through the many charities and good causes he championed”.

The judge imposed a whole-life sentence, as opposed to a life sentence with a minimum term, which means Ali will not be considered for parole and will never be released from prison.

Others serving whole-life sentences include sexual predator Wayne Couzens, who raped and murdered Sarah Everard in London, far-right extremist Thomas Mair, who murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, and Ipswich serial killer Steve Wright.

 

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