November 28, 2019
Mahdi Mohamud tried to kill three people in New Year’s Eve attack which had terrorist link
Police restraining Mahdi Mohamud after three people were stabbed at Victoria station, in Manchester, on New Year’s Eve. Photograph: Sam Clack/PA
By Amy Walker | The Guardian
A man who stabbed three people in Manchester’s Victoria train station on New Year’s Eve has been sentenced to life imprisonment in a high-security psychiatric hospital.
Mahdi Mohamud, 26, who attempted to murder a couple in their 50s and a British Transport police officer, was detained by Manchester crown court on Wednesday under the Mental Health Act.
Mr Justice Stuart-Smith sentenced him to life imprisonment, with a minimum term of 11 years, which will begin in Ashworth secure hopsital hospital until he has recovered sufficiently to be taken to prison, where he will serve the rest of his sentence.
Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said the attacks, which had a “clear terrorist connection”, were “a combined and sustained attack in which you attempted to murder three people”.
On 31 December 2018 Mohamud, who was living in the Cheetham Hill area of the city, ran up to James Knox from behind and repeatedly stabbed him in the neck, head and shoulders with a fillet knife.
He then attacked Knox’s partner, Anna Charlton, slashing her across the face as the couple were walking towards a platform at around 9pm. Knox was left with 13 injuries, including a fractured skull, while Charlton suffered a punctured lung.
Mohamud was confronted by officers and tram staff after they heard Charlton screaming. He was Tasered by Sgt Lee Valentine but the probes of the 50,000-volt stun gun became tangled in his thick puffer coat and failed to paralyse him.
Mahdi Mohamud told police officers “this is for Allah”, Manchester crown court heard. Photograph: Greater Manchester Police/PA
Mohamud began charging at police on the platform before stabbing Valentine in the shoulder. A second kitchen knife was found concealed in his coat as he was led to a police van.
Mohamud pleaded guilty on Tuesday to three counts of attempted murder and to possessing a document or record likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing for an act of terrorism.
Dr Philip Joseph, a consultant forensic psychiatrist who assessed Mohamud, told the court the defendant was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia which made him more likely to be violent.
Because of his mental condition, Mohamud was said to have believed that the government was targeting him. Rebecca Trowler QC, defending, said that the defendant’s illness made him more “vulnerable to the ideology”.
She also argued that his illness was “pivotal” in influencing his interest in jihad, and the idea that the two were not linked was “just not plausible”.
Alison Morgan QC, prosecuting, argued that Mohamud’s mental health condition had only “disinhibited” him to commit the attack he had planned because of his ideology.
Detectives from Greater Manchester police believe Mohamud, a Dutch national, began planning for the attack towards the end of 2017, when he visited family in Somalia.
In video footage from police officers’ body-worn cameras, he can be heard repeatedly saying “this is for Allah” and “these attacks will never stop”.
He also told one officer: “Keep bombing Muslim countries, we’ll see what happens.”
Mohamud, whose parents are Somali, moved to the UK from the Netherlands aged nine. He studied mechanical engineering at the University of Leeds where he achieved a first.
Since 2015 he had had several inpatient stays in hospitals in both the UK and Somalia as a result of his mental health issues.
At the time of the attack, he was not subject to a care plan by mental health services, and had no criminal record.
Although he was detained under the Mental Health Act the day after the attack, he was later found fit to stand trial.