David Amess stabbing: jury shown video of unarmed police detaining accused


A jury has been shown video footage of the man accused of murdering the Conservative MP David Amess clutching a knife and being detained by unarmed police and later saying the offence he was arrested for was “terror” related.

Ali Harbi Ali, 26, denies the murder of Amess, 69, as he held a constituency surgery in a church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, in October 2021.

The jury at the Old Bailey were played footage from body-worn video cameras from the first two officers to arrive, who detained Ali. In it they plead with him to drop the knife, calling him “mate” and saying “please” as they confront a man they have been told will stab them.

Ali, from north London, is alleged to have posed as a constituent to get a meeting with Amess, the MP for Southend West. Ali is alleged to have stabbed him 21 times, claiming it was revenge for western actions in Iraq and against Islamic State in Syria.

An aide to Amess and a member of the public called police after Ali allegedly started his attack just after midday on 15 October 2021.

First on the scene were PC Scott James and PC Ryan Curtis, who heard on their radio of a stabbing at the church. Both officers were in plainclothes and unarmed.

Arriving at the scene, they had an extendable baton and PAVA spray, which can incapacitate a suspect. The footage shows them first waiting briefly outside the church, believing a unit armed with Taser was close by. They are told: “He’s stabbed David. The man is still inside the church and he is brandishing a knife, waving it around. He will stab you if you go in, he will stab you.”

Then they go in, telling members of the public to stay back.

The prosecution say that when the officers entered, Ali was speaking on the phone, it is believed to his sister. In his other hand he had a knife with a 20cm blade.

Once they spotted Ali, it took officers just over 30 seconds to detain him.

In the footage, the officers see Ali and shout “drop the knife” repeatedly. An officer shouts: “Listen to me, listen to me. It’s only going to go one way. Just drop that knife. Please drop that knife for me.”

Also heard is an officer shouting: “You don’t want to do this.”

Ali goes to ground, is told he is being arrested for murder and is read his rights while being handcuffed. He is told to stop moving and replies: “I’m not moving.”

The jury were told earlier in the trial that Ali hoped the first officers on the scene would be armed and shoot him dead so he would be a martyr.

In the footage, the suspect is taken to a police station where he gives his name. He helps the custody officer to spell the name of Amess, as she fills in paperwork.

As Ali is being booked into custody, the person behind the desk asks whether the arrest was “domestic or hate-related”. Ali jumps in answering: “terror” before the officers who detained him can reply. Asked on what basis, Ali answers: “Religious”.

Ali also denies preparing acts of terrorism. The jury heard that on a phone he was arrested with at the church were details of planning for a potential attack on the cabinet minister Michael Gove.

About the author

Olivia Wilson
By Olivia Wilson


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