October 7, 2020 Faith Matters

Serving inmates convicted of terrorist murder plot against prison officer

A terrorist who was jailed for plotting an attack inspired by the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby has been found guilty of trying to murder a guard at a top security jail.

Brusthom Ziamani, 25, was jailed for 22 years after he was caught with a hammer and knife en route to behead a soldier in 2014.

While being held at HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire, Ziamani befriended radicalised Baz Hockton, 26, and the pair hatched a terror attack behind bars, the Old Bailey heard.

They made makeshift bladed weapons and fake suicide belts to launch a ferocious attack on officer Neil Trundle on January 9.

Two female staff members were hurt as they tried to stop the assault, with left Mr Trundle covered in blood.

Ziamani, originally from Camberwell, south London, had denied attempted murder and an alternative of wounding with intent, but admitted assaulting the two women.

He claimed he wanted to be transferred because Whitemoor had become hostile to Muslims in the wake of former inmate Usman Khan’s attack at Fishmonger Hall.

Hockton, originally from Dagenham, who declined to give evidence, had denied attempted murder but admitted wounding with intent.

An Old Bailey jury deliberated for three hours and nine minutes to find them both guilty of attempted murder.

The court had heard the defendants had lured “kind and helpful” Mr Trundle to a store cupboard on the pretext of asking for a spoon.

They then set upon the officer, targeting his vulnerable head, upper chest and neck areas shouting “Allahu Akbar”.

Ziamani briefly broke off to punch nurse Jayle Cowles and prison officer Georgina Ibbotson before resuming the onslaught on Mr Trundle.

When another officer approached, Ziamani opened his jacket to expose the fake suicide belt, and said: “I’ve got a bomb.”

Meanwhile, Hockton was seen on graphic CCTV footage to charge at another officer before both inmates were restrained.

An examination of the fake suicide belts revealed one had been constructed with a battery and pressurised can and the other was made from boxer short elastic, electrical cable and plastic bottles.

Mr Trundle was left covered in blood, with blood on the walls around him, having suffered cuts to his scalp, arm and shoulder.

Reliving the attack, Mr Trundle, who has 14 years’ prisons experience, said: “Before I knew it I was on the floor on my back.

“I did not see any weapons. I could feel blows coming down on me.

“I did not realise how bad the damage was to myself until I went to the hospital and looked in the mirror.”

Mr Trundle denied there was any anti-Muslim feeling at Whitemoor over the deaths of two Cambridge students at Fishmonger Hall.

He said staff had been advised on appropriate behaviour after he heard the term “raghead” used to describe Muslims once.

Prosecutor Annabel Darlow QC had told jurors the attack was terrorist-related.

Ziamani’s plan to become a “martyr” was spelled out in handwritten notes.

In a note found in a cell search, Hockton had written: “Can’t stand anything in uniform and if I see a cop on the wing I’m stick a spike in his head like a unicorn.” (sic)

Ms Darlow told jurors Ziamani’s previous conviction demonstrated he had wanted to kill a British officer for “terrorist purposes”.

She said: “The prosecution say this is exactly what happened in the case, albeit transplanted from the outside world where Mr Ziamani had greater access to weapons and targets to the more limited confines of the prison environment.”

Giving evidence, Ziamani denied it was a terror attack, saying he only wanted to inflict some damage, like a bloody nose, to get sent to a different prison.

The two men did not react as the jury’s verdict was read out, but could be seen smiling as they were sent to the cells.

The judge, Mrs Justice May, listed the case for sentence at 2pm on Thursday.

Following the verdicts, Mr Trundle said: “I thank those colleagues of mine who risked their lives coming to my aid on that terrible day. If it was not for their bravery and instant response, I am convinced I would not be here today.”

Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “This was a calculated and horrific attack by two prisoners who had one aim – to try and murder prison staff.

“I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding professionalism and bravery of the courageous prison staff who responded to the incident. Their quick and selfless actions saved the life of their colleague that day. My thoughts are also with the other victims of this attack who also were injured during this incident.”

A Prison Service spokesperson added: “We welcome today’s verdicts and pay tribute to Prison Officer Trundle and all the staff that responded to this incident with such courage and dedication.

“Attacks on our hardworking staff are not be tolerated and we will always push for the strongest punishment.”

Read more: Prison officer tells jurors how he fought off convicted terrorist Brusthom Ziamani