Woman jailed for life for attack on MP Stephen Timms

Image caption,
Roshonara Choudhry was seen holding a knife in her left hand, immediately before the attack

A 21-year-old student has been jailed for life at the Old Bailey for trying to murder Labour MP Stephen Timms because he voted for the war in Iraq.

Roshonara Choudhry, of East Ham, stabbed the 55-year-old MP for East Ham twice in the stomach at a constituency surgery in Newham, east London, in May.

She was found guilty of attempted murder and two counts of possessing a knife on Tuesday.

Choudhry, of Central Park Road, was jailed for a minimum of 15 years.

She stabbed Mr Timms as he held a constituency surgery at the Beckton Globe community centre in east London on 14 May.

'Revenge for Iraq'

Mr Justice Cooke told Choudhry: "You said you ruined the rest of your life. You said it was worth it. You said you wanted to be a martyr.

"You intended to kill in a political cause and to strike at those in government by doing so.

"You did so as a matter of deliberate decision making, however skewed your reasons, from listening to those Muslims who incite such action on the internet.

Image caption,
MP Stephen Timms was stabbed at his Newham constituency surgery

"I also hope that you will come to understand the distorted nature of your thinking, the evil that you have done and planned to do, and repent of it.

"You do not suffer from any mental disease. You have simply committed evil acts coolly and deliberately."

During the trial the court heard Choudhry had made a list of MPs who had voted for the Iraq war. Choudhry would continue to be a danger to MPs, the judge added.

Following the sentence Mr Timms told BBC Radio 5 live: "I think it's an appropriate sentence.

"It's obviously a worry that a very bright young woman with everything to look forward to reached the decision that she should throw it all away by attempting to murder her local MP as Roshonara did and I think it's alarming that she seemed to have reached that conclusion simply by spending time on the internet."

Media caption,
Stephen Timms: "I think we do need to take care of other young people who might find themselves in a similar position"

The Muslim Council of Britain responded to the sentence saying it was "appalled" by Choudhry's "reasoning which reflects an aberrant personality".

"Stephen is a well-known and trusted MP within his very diverse constituency, including many Muslims, who feel deeply hurt by this incident and he remains in our prayers," it added.

Choudhry stabbed the MP as she approached him pretending to shake his hand. CCTV cameras show her holding a knife in her hands just before the attack.

'Extremely fortunate'

Following the attack she told officers it was a "punishment" and "to get revenge for the people of Iraq", the Old Bailey heard.

Choudhry, who had refused to appear in court, told her barrister Jeremy Dein QC she did not accept the court's jurisdiction and did not wish him to challenge the prosecution case.

During the trial Mr Timms said: "She looked friendly. She was smiling."

The attack sent him "reeling and staggering". The court heard the attacker had two knives with her, in case one broke during the attack.

Image caption,
Choudhry had to be restrained after she stabbed Mr Timms in the stomach

Simon Clements, head of the CPS Special Crime Division, said: "An MP's surgery where they meet their constituents is one of the cornerstones of our democracy.

"Roshonara Choudhry decided against any peaceful discussion of issues that concerned her and instead seized an opportunity to attack a man she had never met and who had never wished her any harm.

"She admitted without hesitation that her intention was to end her victim's life, but has succeeded only in ruining her own."

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne said Mr Timms "was extremely fortunate not to have been killed".

"Mr Timms, like all MPs, are entitled to fulfil their role without fear of violence," he added.

The BBC learned from police sources that the Muslim student had become radicalised having watched online sermons by Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American Muslim cleric of Yemeni descent.

Mr Awlaki has been linked to a series of attacks and plots across the world.

Choudhry, who was described as an outstanding student, dropped out of her English degree at King's College London weeks before the attack.

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