The terrorist who murdered veteran MP Sir David Amess is to die behind bars after being sentenced to life in prison.
Islamic State fanatic Ali Harbi Ali appeared at the Old Bailey on Wednesday after being convicted of murder and preparation of terrorist acts.
Mr David was stabbed more than 20 times at a constituency surgery meeting in Essex last October, in a murder described by his family as ‘beyond evil’.
In handing down Ali’s sentence, Judge Sweeney said the murder of the MP for Southend West ‘strikes at the heart of our democracy’.
The judge said Sir David was ‘a man of the greatest substance’ who had done ‘nothing at all’ to justify the attack on him.
“His loss is of national significance,” the judge said.
Read more: How a ‘fanatic’ terrorist carried out the assassination of an MP – and his ‘twisted’ motive for the attack
Judge Sweeney said the murder was carried out ‘in revenge for the losses of the Islamic State in Syria’ and that Sir David had ‘fought bravely and hard’ against the attack.
“The defendant has neither remorse nor shame for what he did, quite the contrary,” the judge said.
In a statement after sentencing, Sir David’s family said they felt “no joy” at Ali’s imprisonment and would “shed tears forever for the man we have lost”.
“Our amazing husband and father was taken from us in an appalling and violent way,” they said.
“We will never recover from this tragedy.
“It breaks our hearts to know that our husband and father would have greeted the killer with a friendly smile and been eager to help.
“How sickening to think about what happened next. It’s beyond evil.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he welcomed Ali’s life sentence, saying: “We will never allow those who commit evil acts to triumph over democracy.”
Alidressed in a collarless black robe in the dock, pursed his lips briefly as the judge delivered his sentence.
He told the trial he had no regrets over the murder, saying Sir David deserved to die because he voted in parliament for airstrikes on Syria in 2014 and 2015.
The killer refused to appear in court “on religious grounds” when jurors delivered their verdict on Monday after just 18 minutes of deliberation.
Other top killers who have been given life orders include the far-right extremist Thomas Mairwho murdered Labor MP Jo Cox in 2016, and police officer Wayne Couzens who raped and killed Sarah Everard in south London last year.
Ali’s trial heard Sir David was killed in a ‘violent and frantic’ attack which was ‘murder for terrorist purposes’.
Prosecutors described Ali as a “bloodthirsty” supporter of Islamic State who had spent years masterminding his plot to kill an MP.
The 26-year-old had researched a number of potential high-profile political targets, including Michael Gove, Dominic Raab and Sir Keir Starmer, before settling on Sir David.
During the sentencing hearing, victim impact statements were read by Mr Gove and fellow MP Mike Freer, who was also Ali’s target.
Mr Freer said he and his staff will now wear bulletproof vests and mobile panic alarms during surgical consultations in supermarkets, libraries or on the streets.
Mr Gove described his experience as “incomparable” with the loss to the Amess family, saying: “Like everyone I knew at work, I found the impact of the loss of Sir David to be enormous. “
Ali managed to arrange a meeting with Sir David by tricking the MP’s office into thinking he was a healthcare worker moving to the area and wanting to discuss local issues.
The college dropout traveled from his home in Kentish Town, north London, to Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, where Sir David’s ward surgery was taking place, carrying a 12-inch knife.
During a meeting with the politician, Ali said ‘sorry’ and pulled the knife from his clothes, repeatedly stabbing Sir David, causing him to scream.
The so-called ‘lone wolf’ terrorist had sent a WhatsApp manifesto to his family and friends seeking to justify his actions at the time of the attack.
After Ali was confronted with a disarmed man who had arrived for a meeting with Sir David, the killer claimed he wanted to be shot by the police and become a “martyr”.
Dramatic body camera footage showed two plainclothes officers who were the first to respond to the scene, armed only with batons and CS spray, tackle Ali and arrest him.
Sir David, a 69-year-old father of five, had been an MP from 1983 until his death.
Following the guilty verdicts in Ali’s trial, the Prime Minister said Sir David was a ‘beloved colleague, civil servant and friend’ and his thoughts were with the MP’s widow Julia and the family A mess.