Manchester

Manchester Victoria station stabbings: Man detained for attempted murder

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Media captionBodycam footage captured the moment police officers detained Mahdi Mohamud

A man who tried to kill three people, including a police officer, in a frenzied knife attack at a railway station has been detained for life.

Mahdi Mohamud, 26, stabbed a couple and then attacked Sgt Lee Valentine at Manchester Victoria on New Year's Eve.

He was told he would serve a minimum of 11 years after admitting three counts of attempted murder and a terror offence at Manchester Crown Court.

Mohamud will initially held in a high security psychiatric hospital.

Sentencing, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith told Mohamud of Cheetham Hill, Manchester, he had "walked calmly and purposefully to Manchester Victoria station" where he spotted the couple.

"You followed them took out one of your knives and attacked them. You attacked them intending to kill them," the judge said.

Mohamud stabbed the man repeatedly in the back, shoulders and head and slashed his partner across the face before attacking Sgt Valentine, who was trying to apprehend him.

Image copyright CPS (left) and GMP (right)
Image caption Mahdi Mohamud will be detained in Ashworth Secure Hospital and transferred to prison to when he is deemed well enough

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith acknowledged Mohamud suffered from paranoid schizophrenia which led him to believe the government was controlling his body using ultra-high frequency waves.

But he said although mental illness was a significant contribution to his interest in jihad, Mohamud retained substantial responsibility and culpability for the attacks.

Mohamud will be detained in Ashworth Secure Hospital and transferred to prison to serve the rest of sentence when he is deemed well enough.

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Media captionFootage of the moment Mohamud struck at Manchester Victoria

The court previously heard Mohamud walked up behind the couple in their 50s at the station shortly before 21:00 GMT on 31 December.

He shouted "Allahu Akbar" and "Long live the caliphate" and then lunged at them with a knife.

The man's 13 injuries included a fractured skull while the woman's right lung was punctured and she had a slash to her forehead.

Sgt Valentine, 31, shot Mohamud with his Taser but the barbs got stuck in the knifeman's coat and failed to paralyse him.

The British Transport Police officer was stabbed in the shoulder before his attacker was wrestled to the ground and arrested.

A second kitchen knife was found in Mohamud's waistband and Greater Manchester Police said officers recovered a large amount of "counter-terrorism mindset material", including images and a document about how to carry out knife attacks.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Four officers, including Sgt Valentine (second left) and two tram staff, received commendations following the attack

Mohamud, a Dutch national from a Somali family, had arrived in the UK aged nine and became radicalised online, the force said.

Det Supt Will Chatterton said: "This was a terrifying attack on one of the busiest days of the year and I know it will stay with the victims for the rest of their lives.

"It doesn't bear thinking about what could have happened had Mohamud used the larger knife that he was carrying in his coat pocket."

'Deeply saddened'

In a letter to the judge, Mohamud's father said the family had prayed for the victims since the "horrific" attack and said he was eternally grateful for the swift response from emergency services.

He said the family was so "shocked" and "deeply saddened" knowing what his son had done but believed "if it wasn't for Madhi's mental health illness he would not have done those awful acts".

Mohamud's solicitor, Nasir Hafezi, called for an urgent change to the law on insanity as it did not provide the "legal protection required" for a person suffering from a very serious mental health condition facing serious charges.

"Despite Mahdi pleading guilty... it would be wrong simply to label Mahdi in the same way as someone who has chosen to use violence in full possession of his mental faculties," he said.

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