'David Amess would've greeted him with a smile': Family condemns MP's terrorist killer

13 April 2022, 12:12 | Updated: 13 April 2022, 14:07

Ali Harbi Ali has been jailed for life for the murder of Tory MP Sir David Amess
Ali Harbi Ali has been jailed for life for the murder of Tory MP Sir David Amess. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

The family of Sir David Amess say they are "sickened" the Tory MP would have greeted his frenzied knife killer with a smile.

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Unrepentant Ali Harbi Ali, 26, smiled as he was led to the cells after being given a whole life order for Sir David's murder - meaning he will never be released from prison.

The judge said the attack on the MP "struck at the heart of our democracy" and he had no option but to keep Ali in jail for the rest of his life.

Ali was also given a concurrent life sentence with a minimum term of 30 years for terrorism offences.

Ali Harbi Ali will never be released from jail
Ali Harbi Ali will never be released from jail. Picture: Alamy

Sir David's family described the murder as "beyond evil" and said "it breaks our heart" to think of the MP greeting Ali "with a smile of friendship".

"There is no elation in our family today following this sentencing," they said in a statement, read outside court by Assistant Commissioner Matt Jukes.

"Our amazing husband and father has been taken from us in an appalling and violent manner. Nothing will ever compensate for that.

"We will wake each day and immediately feel our loss. We will struggle through each day for the rest of our lives.

"Our last thought before sleep will be of David. We will forever shed tears for the man we have lost. 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. It is beyond evil."

They thanked the police, their legal team, their friends and family, and the general public, and said: "Somehow, we now have to move on with our lives although none of us really knows where to begin."

Read more: 'Fanatical terrorist' found guilty of frenzied knife murder of Tory MP Sir David Amess

The judge said Sir David "fought bravely and hard against the attack" but was overcome by the defendant, who was younger and larger than him.

Mr Justice Sweeney says the court had "sincere admiration" for the way Sir David's family dealt with their "incalculable loss, and a trial that was forced on them by the defendant's cowardly refusal to admit his guilt".

"This was a murder carried out in revenge for Islamic State's losses in Syria," he said.

"The defendant has no remorse or shame, quite the reverse."

Ali offered no mitigation in the sentencing.

Family of Sir David Amess speak out as MP’s killer is sentenced

Speaking outside court after the sentencing, Assistant Commissioner Jukes said on behalf of the police: "It's clear that the man who begins a life sentence today is a cold, calculated and dangerous individual.

"Sir David was callously and senselessly murdered, working in his constituency as he had done over a distinguished political career of nearly 40 years."

He added: "Sir David's murder was an attack on democracy, and we will never let terrorists prevail."

Terrorist guilty of ‘cold & calculating’ murder of MP Sir David Amess

Whole-life orders are the most severe punishment available in the UK criminal justice system for those who commit the most serious crimes.

Ali joins a string of some of the country's most dangerous offenders who are expected to die behind bars, including disgraced police officer Wayne Couzens and necrophiliac David Fuller.

They will never be considered for release, unless there are exceptional compassionate grounds to warrant it.

Veteran Tory Sir David Amess died in the attack last October
Veteran Tory Sir David Amess died in the attack last October. Picture: Alamy

Ali was convicted of murder and preparing terrorist acts on Monday by jurors who spent just 18 minutes to find him guilty.

Prosecutors described the case as "overwhelming", and the 26-year-old Londoner himself did not dispute much of the evidence.

The Islamic State fanatic carried out his attack at the backbench Conservative MP's constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15 last year.

Read more: Sir David Amess' murderer achieved 'absolutely nothing', campaigner declares

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

He told the trial he had no regrets about the murder, defending his actions by saying Sir David deserved to die because he had voted in Parliament for air strikes on Syria in 2014 and 2015.

The court heard that Ali became known to authorities around this time as his school performance plunged and he was referred to the Government's Prevent strategy, but continued plotting in secret.

The so-called "lone wolf" sent a manifesto on WhatsApp to family and friends seeking to justify his actions around the time of the attack, and told father-of-five Sir David he was "sorry" before plunging the 12in carving knife into him, causing the 69-year-old politician to scream.

Ali Harbi Ali seen on CCTV prior to the attack. The court heard he intended to target Michael Gove
Ali Harbi Ali seen on CCTV prior to the attack. The court heard he intended to target Michael Gove. Picture: Alamy

Sir David received more than 20 stab injuries and died at the scene.

Knife-wielding Ali was later apprehended by two police officers armed only with batons and spray. They have since been handed bravery awards.

In an impact statement read to the court, Julie Cushion, Sir David Amess’ aide who was present at the time of the killing, said: "Since the 15th of October 2021 I have had to drive by the church of Sir David’s death nearly every day as it’s close to where I live.

"It’s a constant reminder of what happened. I have a huge sense of guilt as I booked the venue. I can never get that scream out of my mind when Sir David was attacked.

"I remember that awful feeling of distress while we waited for help, feeling helpless and hopeless. The expression on the perpetrator’s face has stayed with me all the time. A look of smug, self satisfaction.

"I now work for a new MP, but I also have the fear that she could be attacked."