A terrorist who launched a frenzied knife attack on commuters and police at Manchester Victoria train station last New Year’s Eve has been sentenced to life with a minimum term of 11 years.
Mahdi Mohamud, who will begin his sentence in a high-security psychiatric hospital, raised the fillet knife and walked up behind unsuspecting James Knox, 54, screaming “Allahu Akbar!” and “Long live the Caliphate!” as he stabbed his victim repeatedly in the back, shoulders and head.
The 26-year-old then turned the knife on Mr Knox’s companion, Anna Charlton, 57, slashing her across the face after the couple randomly crossed his path heading for a tram home shortly before 9pm last December 31.
Sgt Lee Valentine, 31, was also stabbed in the shoulder as the defendant was confronted and arrested by British Transport Police (BTP).
Mohamud, diagnosed as suffering paranoid schizophrenia, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to three counts of attempted murder and one count of the possession of a document or record likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, a manual titled, “the seven most lethal ways to strike with a knife”.
Alison Morgan QC, prosecuting, argued though Mohamud was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and this may have “disinhibited” his behaviour, the attack was “not simply a product of that mental illness” given the months of planning, his extremist ideology and desire to perform “jihad.”
A bodycam from BTP officer PC Tom Wright captures the moment officers confront the attacker on the platform
The court heard the defendant, a Dutch national from a Somali family who has lived in the UK since the age of nine, gained a first-class degree in mechanical engineering from Leeds University in 2016.
But after gaining a placement with Rolls Royce in 2015 he suffered a drug induced psychosis and his mental health deteriorated with him being sectioned and spending time in mental hospitals in the UK and Somalia.
Rebecca Trowler QC, mitigating, told the court the defendant’s mental illness acted as the “driver” for the attack.
Mr Justice Stuart-Smith sentenced Mohamud to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 11 years.
The ‘Hybrid Order’ means the defendant will remain in a hospital until until his mental state has recovered sufficiently for him to be transferred to prison to complete the rest of his sentence.
Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said: “In general terms your mental illness did not cause you to be unable to distinguish between right and wrong.
“For these main reasons I conclude that, though your mental illness made a significant contribution, probably by exacerbating the seeds of Islamic radicalisation and by a disinhibiting effect, you retain substantial responsibility and culpability for your acts.”