Salih Khater

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Metropolitan Police

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Salih Khater said he had panicked after getting lost, causing him to drive into pedestrians, cyclists and police

A man who drove at cyclists and police officers outside Parliament has been jailed for life for attempted murder.

Salih Khater, 30, of Highgate Street, Birmingham, aimed his car at members of the public before swerving towards the officers in Parliament Square on 14 August 2018.

He must serve at least 15 years in jail, the Old Bailey judge said.

Khater was accused of attempting to cause maximum carnage, and it was said to be “miraculous” no-one was killed.

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Met Police

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The silver Ford Fiesta driven by Khater smashed into a security barrier

The court was told he tried to “kill as many people as possible” with his Ford Fiesta.

CCTV footage showed how he careered into a security lane and crashed into barriers as two police officers jumped out of the way.

Alison Morgan QC told jurors Khater’s attack was “premeditated and deliberate” and had a terrorist motive.

The defendant claimed he had driven to London to find the Sudanese embassy to get a visa but “got lost” around Westminster and panicked.

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

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Media captionJurors were shown CCTV footage of the defendant’s car driving at cyclists before crashing into barriers

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

He argued: “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 terrorists.

“Your undoubted intention was to kill as many people as possible and by doing so spread fear and terror,” she said; adding that he had “replicated the acts of others who undoubtedly have acted with terrorist motives”.

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Reuters

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It was “miraculous” that no-one died as a result of the defendant’s actions, the Old Bailey heard

The court heard Khater was born in Sudan before being granted asylum in Britain in 2010, claiming he had been tortured in his birth country.

In the months before the attack, Khater had showed signs of “paranoia” about British authorities, emailing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to express concern about an “event” involving the intelligence services.

Richard Smith, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “This was a man who used his car as a weapon to attempt to kill as many people as possible, spreading fear and terror.

“It was our view that this attack was carried out with a terrorist purpose and the sentence confirms this,” he added.

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