Chilling CCTV footage shows terror suspect's 'journey to murder Sir David Amess'

22 March 2022, 15:17 | Updated: 22 March 2022, 15:54

By Patrick Grafton-Green

A jury has been shown chilling CCTV of a suspected terrorist's journey to fatally stab MP Sir David Amess at a constituency appointment.

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Ali Harbi Ali, 26, can be seen walking alongside unsuspecting members of the public, including school children, as he travelled for over two hours from his home in north London.

He made the trek along busy high streets and residential areas to Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15 last year.

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Ali, wearing a long khaki coat and with a black backpack slung over his right shoulder, could even be seen appearing to help a fellow passenger with directions as he waited for his connection at Barking railway station.

The Old Bailey heard he waited for about 25 minutes yards from the church building where he was due to meet Sir David, having duped his staff into believing he was a healthcare worker moving to the area and wanted to discuss local matters.

Jurors previously heard Ali spent years hatching his plot, researching a number of potential targets including Michael Gove, Dominic Raab and Sir Keir Starmer, before settling on 69-year-old Tory backbencher, Sir David.

He stabbed Sir David 21 times with a carving knife with a 12-inch blade and sent a WhatsApp message apologising to his family and friends, attempting to justify his actions.

CCTV shows Ali wearing a long khaki coat and with a black backpack slung over his right shoulder
CCTV shows Ali wearing a long khaki coat and with a black backpack slung over his right shoulder. Picture: Met Police

Ali then spoke to his worried sister on the phone for 14 minutes, as Sir David lay bleeding to death, before being apprehended by two unarmed plain-clothes police officers, who pinned him to the floor and arrested him.

Sir David, a married father-of-five, was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Tuesday, prosecutor Tom Little QC took the jury through a timeline of events leading up to his death.

The court heard Ali had looked up a web page about Sir David on July 22 last year.

Three hours later, he was near the Houses of Parliament, according to cell site analysis.

Ali travelled for over two hours from his home in north London
Ali travelled for over two hours from his home in north London. Picture: Met Police

His web history also showed searches last September relating to government minister Michael Gove, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and London MP Mike Freer, jurors heard.

On September 27, Ali emailed Sir David's office to ask about a meeting.

He wrote: "I will be moving to the area from a Labour-held constituency and wanted to get to know my future MP.

"Since I work in healthcare, I would like to know his plans, if any, for the hospital and workers.

"Also, as someone interested in Christianity, I have seen many churches in my area losing attendances and struggle with upkeep, eventually becoming at risk of being demolished or repurposed.

"I wanted to know if the situation in Southend is similar and, if so, what are the solutions."

Ali can be seen walking alongside unsuspecting members of the public
Ali can be seen walking alongside unsuspecting members of the public. Picture: Met Police

He added: "Looking forward to seeing you soon. If all appointments are taken, let me know if there's a cancellation. I'll be in the local area and will be able to drop by."

Sir David's aide Rebecca Hayton responded by requesting Ali's address and full name to check he was a constituent.

Ali gave a postcode in Southend and told her: "I'll be in the local area on Friday so it would be nice to see him regardless, although I know he's a very busy man so I can appreciate (it) if that's not possible."

Ms Hayton told Ali all the appointments had been taken but she would be happy to book him in for October 15.

Ali replied to say his "schedule is rather hectic for the next couple of weeks so I'm not sure I'll be available".

Ali made the trek along busy high streets and residential areas
Ali made the trek along busy high streets and residential areas. Picture: Met Police

But, on September 30, he confirmed he was "able to clear up my schedule" and asked for an appointment at noon.

He told Ms Hayton: "I don't really know how long the appointments are but I don't think I'll take too long. Thanks for all the help so far."

Around the time of the attack on Sir David, Ali sent a message to family and friends which appeared to have been drafted days before, the court was told.

In it, he said the attack was "for the sake of Allah", jurors heard.

Sir David Amess was stabbed 21 times
Sir David Amess was stabbed 21 times. Picture: Alamy

He allegedly wrote: "I apologise to my family for deceiving them for so long. I would have preferred Hijrah so as not to harm you but I could not.

"The obligations upon me to take revenge for the blood of Muslims were too great.

"The shame of abiding in the very lands that carry out these horrendous acts against my brothers and sisters was too much."

Ali, from Kentish Town, north London, has denied preparing terrorist acts and murder.

The trial continues.