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Shocking footage showed police stand-off with Sir David Amess’s killer

Court artist sketch of Ali Harbi Ali appearing at the Old Bailey by video link from Belmarsh Prison (Elizabeth Cook/PA)
Court artist sketch of Ali Harbi Ali appearing at the Old Bailey by video link from Belmarsh Prison (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

The terrorist who murdered Sir David Amess wanted to die “a hero” but was thwarted by brave members of the public and plain-clothes police, whose actions were captured on camera.

Ali Harbi Ali was intent on being shot dead after he repeatedly stabbed the Conservative MP during a constituency surgery at Leigh-on-Sea in Essex on October 15 last year.

But his plans for martyrdom were scuppered when Essex Police Constables Scott James and Ryan Curtis, who were armed only with batons and incapacitant spray, entered Belfairs Methodist Church to confront him rather than wait for back-up.

Ali Harbi Ali court case
Ali Harbi Ali captured on CCTV walking from Leigh-on-Sea railway station to Belfairs Methodist Church (Metropolitan Police/PA)

The 26-year-old charged at the two patrol officers after a tense, expletive-laden exchange, but gave up when he realised they were not carrying guns.

The extraordinary stand-off was captured on police bodyworn cameras, and the footage was played in full to jurors during Ali’s trial at the Old Bailey.

It was edited by police before being released to journalists, to remove graphic content that could be used by extremists to glorify terrorism.

Pcs James and Curtis were in the area trying to find an unrelated wanted suspect when they were called to the church building, where Sir David was holding his constituency surgery.

The pair arrived to be told that the 69-year-old politician had been “stabbed several times”.

They ran into the church building to confront the suspect after being told that officers with Tasers were at least two minutes away.

The two constables shouted: “Drop that knife.”

One added: “It’s only going to go one way. Please drop that knife.”

The pair then charged at Ali, who is said to have been on a 14-minute phone call with his “hysterical” sister at the time.

Ali then said: “My phone’s rung, it’s the family.”

Shouting, as if to ensure the caller could hear, he added: “Don’t worry. The police got me. They’re not gonna shoot.”

Ali was taken into custody, where he told the booking-in officer that the incident was both “terror”-related and had “religious” motivations.

Ali Harbi Ali court case
Ali Harbi Ali was taken into custody on suspicion of the murder of Sir David Amess (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Ali had managed to arrange an appointment with Sir David by duping the veteran politician’s office into believing he was a healthcare worker moving to the area who wished to discuss local matters.

He was said to be “relaxed and chatty” when he arrived, before going into the meeting when he was noted as being preoccupied with his phone. It was later discovered that he had sent a manifesto to contacts seeking to justify his actions.

Rebecca Hayton, Sir David’s junior aide who was with him at the surgery, described seeing Ali then stand up, say “Sorry”, pull a knife from his clothing, and stab the married father-of-five, causing him to scream in panic.

Witness Yvonne Eaves said Ali had a look of “self-satisfaction” as though he had “achieved something” in the moments after the attack.

Ali Harbi Ali court case
Bodycam footage taken at Belfairs Methodist Church showing (L to R) an unknown person in a white T-shirt, Rebecca Hayton, Julie Cushion, Yvonne Eaves, and Darren King (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Her partner, Darren King, who had his own appointment with the MP, tried to reason with Ali and go to Sir David’s aid, telling police: “My one eye was looking at David to see if I could see movement, the other eye was on the knife – it was a big knife.”

Ali is alleged to have said: “I want him dead.

“I want every Parliament minister (sic) who signed up for the bombing of Syria, who agreed to the Iraqi war, to die.”

Sir David died at the scene from multiple stab wounds to the chest, some of which were 6in (15cm) deep.

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