Westminster car crash: Salih Khater guilty of attempted murder

Westminster car crash: Salih Khater guilty of attempted murder

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

A man who drove at cyclists and police officers outside the Houses of Parliament has been found guilty of attempted murder.

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

The Old Bailey heard Khater wanted to cause maximum carnage and it was “miraculous” that no-one was killed.

He had denied two counts of attempted murder.

CCTV of the attack shows Khater, of Highgate Street, Birmingham, plough his Ford Fiesta into a pedestrian and a group of cyclists who had stopped at a red light.

He then careers into a security lane and crashes into barriers as two police officers jump out of the way.

‘Fear and chaos’

Khater claimed he had gone to London to get a visa from the Sudanese embassy, but “got lost” around Westminster and panicked.

The jury deliberated over two days before rejecting his explanation and finding him guilty.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said the attack had been “premeditated and deliberate”, causing “widespread fear and chaos”.

Khater arrived in Parliament Square in the early hours of 14 August, and drove around Westminster before resting for four-and-a-half hours in Windmill Street, Soho.

He then returned to Westminster, where he made four laps of the square before launching the rush-hour attack.

One victim, pedestrian Paul Brown, was crossing the road when Khater’s car “came out of nowhere” and hit him, causing bruising and grazes.

Cyclists Krystof Tokarski and Anya Breen were waiting at the crossing when Khater revved his engine and knocked them down.

Mr Tokarski suffered grazes and a broken little finger while Ms Breen was thrown over the bonnet, fracturing her collar bone.

Other people were trapped under their bikes, with some screaming in pain, the court heard.

Khater then made a sharp turn into a slip road, going 32mph, forcing officers Darren Shotton and Simon Short to dive out of the way.

Image copyright
Met Police

Image caption

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

He told jurors he “got lost” and “panicked” when he crashed into cyclists and was trying to pull over when he crashed into barriers in the security lane.

He said: “I remember something made me panic. The car was not in my full control at the time.”

Ms Morgan told jurors Khater’s reason for the attack was unclear, but targeting officers guarding the Palace of Westminster suggested a possible “terrorist motive”.

Mobile phone evidence showed he had looked up maps for 10 Downing Street and Westminster, described as potential “deliberate targets” by prosecutors.

Sudan-born Khater was granted asylum in Britain in 2010 after claiming he had been tortured in his home country.

Mrs Justice McGowan remanded him into custody to be sentenced on October 7, and ordered pre-sentence reports to help her determine Khater’s potential dangerousness.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

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

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