A terrorist who last year drove a car into a group of cyclists in Parliament Square, injuring several of them, then tried to ram his vehicle through a barrier outside the Palace of Westminster, has been jailed for life.
Salih Khater, aged 30 and from Birmingham, drove his Ford Fiesta car into a group of around 15 cyclists who were waiting at a red traffic light on the morning of 14 August 2018, with the incident shown during his trial at the Old Bailey.
Two police officers stationed in a security lane outside the Houses of Parliament then had to jump out of his way as he crashed into a barrier.
Alison Morgan QC, prosecuting, described his actions as “premeditated and deliberate” and the jury found him guilty of two counts of attempted murder, reports Mail Online.
However, Khater has never explained his motives for the attack, with Peter Carter QC, speaking in mitigation, telling presiding judge Mrs Justice McGowan court: “Had there been any evidence of any link between this man and a terrorist organisation or terrorist individual or had there been any connection that he had expressed any interest in or showed any desire to pursue any link to terrorism it would have been before your ladyship.
“There is not. The lack of evidence is not a proper basis for drawing a conclusion there is evidence of a terrorist connection.”
The judge disagreed however, jailing Khater for life with a recommendation of a minimum term of 15 years in prison.
“Your undoubted intention was to kill as many people as possible and by doing so spread fear and terror,” she told him.
“You replicated the acts of others who undoubtedly have acted with terrorist motives. You deliberately copied those others.
“It was an attack on strangers and police officers at the seat of democracy in this country.
“You are dangerous in that you present a significant risk of causing serious harm to the public in the future,” she added.
“Even acting alone, you acted for a terrorist purpose. All the evidence is consistent with that conclusion.”
Born in Sudan, Khater was granted asylum in the UK in 2010, but the court heard that he had developed “paranoia” about the British authorities in the months prior to the attack.
He arrived in London at around midnight on the day of the attack, having gone to Peterborough the previous day where he unsuccessfully tried to obtain a fast-track passport.
He arrived in Westminster at around 1am and drove around the area, before parking up in Soho for several hours before returning to Parliament Square, which he lapped four times before launching his attack.
Among the injured were cyclists Krystof Tokarski, who broke a finger and Anya Breen, who sustained a fractured collarbone. Both had been cycling to work.
“I saw it [the car] coming round the roundabout, I saw it turn towards the wrong way down the road, effectively on our side of the road,” Ms Breen said.
“It was being driven, it seemed to me, really consistently – at the same speed.
“I don't remember the impact, I remember up until it was quite close and then the next thing I remember is I was on the ground.
“I remember just thinking, 'This is happening,' and it was a process of, 'Surely it’s going to stop? Surely it’s going to turn the other way?’
“I couldn't move, I was very tense. I was just staring up, I could only see what was above me.”
Nicola Toner, who witnessed the attack, said that she had seen Ms Breen get thrown onto the bonnet of the car and then falling to the ground.
“The girl appeared to be in a lot of pain, she was screaming and couldn't get up.” She said. “When the girl was struck be the car she was about a metre-and-a-half from me.
“At the time I burst into tears and I was properly in shock.”
After attempting to crash through the barrier outside Parliament, Khater was apprehended by armed police, who removed him from the vehicle and took him into custody.
The attack came nearly 18 months after Khalid Masood drove into a crowd of pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge, killing four, in March 2017.
He then ran into New Palace Yard where he fatally stabbed a police officer, before being shot dead by police.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.