30-year-old student Salih Khater from Birmingham jailed for life for trying to kill police and cyclists

A copycat terrorist from Birmingham who tried to "kill as many people as possible" when he ploughed into cyclists and police officers outside the Houses of Parliament has been jailed for life.

30-year-old Salih Khater of Highgate Street in Birmingham drove his Ford Fiesta into a pedestrian and cyclists who had stopped at a red light in Parliament Square on August 14 last year.

He then careered into a security lane and crashed into barriers as two policeofficers jumped out of the way.

The attack was caught on CCTV footage which was played in court.

Footage taken from CCTV of the moment Khater drove his car at cyclists before crashing into barriers. Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

The Old Bailey heard Khater, of Highgate Street, Birmingham, wanted to cause maximum carnage and it was "miraculous" that no-one was killed.

Alison Morgan QC had told jurors Khater's attack was "premeditated anddeliberate" and had a terrorist motive, although the details were unclear.

Khater claimed he came to London to find the Sudanese embassy to get a visa but "got lost" around Westminster and panicked.

A jury rejected his explanation for the crash and found him guilty of two charges of attempted murder in July.

Forensic officers at the scene of the crash. Credit: PA

In mitigation, Peter Carter QC told the court Khater remained an "enigma" and he had still not offered an explanation for what he did.

He told the judge: "Had there been any evidence of any link between this man and a terrorist organisation or terrorist individual or had there been anyconnection 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."

But Mrs Justice McGowan found Khater had deliberately copied other terrorists as she jailed him on Monday (October 14) for life with a minimum term of 15 years.

She said: "Your undoubted intention was to kill as many people as possible and by doing so spread fear and terror."

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. Even acting alone, you acted for a terrorist purpose. All the evidence is consistent with that conclusion."

Mrs Justice McGowan
Injured cyclists outside the Houses of Parliament. Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

The court had heard how Khater was born in Sudan and was granted asylum in Britain in 2010, after claiming he had been tortured in his home country.

In the months before the attack, the defendant showed signs of "paranoia"about British authorities, it was claimed.

He had failed his accountancy exams at the University of Coventry and his work as a security guard had dried up.

On May 24 last year, he emailed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to express concern about an "event" involving the intelligence services, the court heard.

The day before the attack, Khater had travelled to Peterborough andunsuccessfully applied for a fast-track UK passport, the court heard. He thenset off from Birmingham to London just before 10pm, arriving after midnight.

Salih Khater leaving the Passport Office in Peterborough where he applied for a fast-track UK passport Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

CCTV captured Khater arriving in Parliament Square just before 1am and driving around Westminster, checking the layout for the attack five or six hours later.

He then parked up and rested for four-and-a-half hours in Windmill Street inSoho before returning to Parliament Square.

He went on to do four laps of the square before launching the rush-hourattack.

Pedestrian Paul Brown was crossing the road when Khater's car "came out of nowhere" and hit him, causing bruising and grazes.

Krystof Tokarski and Anya Breen were cycling to work and were waiting attraffic lights when Khater revved his engine and knocked them down.

Mr Tokarski suffered grazes and a broken little finger while Ms Breen was thrown over the bonnet, fracturing her collar bone.

Other people were trapped under their bikes, with some screaming in pain. The defendant made a sharp turn into a slip road, going 32mph, forcing Pc Darren Shotton and Pc Simon Short to dive out of the way.

As armed police removed Khater from the car, the defendant confirmed he was acting alone but failed to explain himself.