Streatham Terrorist Was Gunned Down by Police Who Had Him Under 24/7 Surveillance, Inquest Told
11:21 GMT 02.08.2021 (Updated: 19:03 GMT 02.08.2021)
In February 2020, Sudesh Amman was shot dead by police officers after he stabbed two people in a south London street. Amman was released from prison only a week before the attack.
Prison officers had warned Sudesh Amman had "retained extremist views" shortly before he was released from jail, an inquest in London has been told.
Sudesh Amman, 20, stabbed two people after picking up a knife in a shop in Streatham High Road, south London on 2 February 2020. Both survived.
The coroner, Mr Justice Hilliard, told the inquest, at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, Amman had been convicted of sharing terrorist material in December 2018 and was jailed for three years but was released in January 2020, after serving half his sentence.
Judge Hilliard said: “He served his sentence at Belmarsh prison. Prison officers reported he retained extremist views throughout that time and they were concerned for his release into the community.”
Amman was originally from Harrow in north London but was staying at a bail hostel in Streatham at the time of the attack.
Judge Hilliard gave the jury a brief outline of what happened on 2 February 2020 and in the run-up to that day.
He said Amman had been subjected to a number of licence conditions, including a 9 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew and the wearing of an electronic tag.
But he said there were such concerns about Amman that MI5 and the Metropolitan Police’s Counter-Terrorism Command decided to put him under surveillance and this was increased to round-the-clock armed surveillance after he was seen looking at knives in a shop and appeared to buy items which could have made a hoax suicide belt.
Judge Hilliard said four officers had Amman under surveillance when he left the bail hostel at 1.20pm on 2 February 2020.
He said Amman walked into a shop at 1.57 p.m. and grabbed a 20cm kitchen shop before running out.
Judge Hilliard said: "Amman removed the packaging and ran north on Streatham High Road. One officer, BX87, ran after him. He was 15-20 metres behind and was shouting at him to stop. Amman then stabbed a lady in the back outside the White Lion public house and stabbed a man on the right side of the torso outside a Cash Converters shop."
The jury was told that when Amman reached a Boots pharmacy he turned towards the police and two officers fired a total of five shots at him. He was fatally wounded in the neck and abdomen and fell to the ground.
“It was 63 seconds after he had run out of the shop,” said Judge Hilliard.
The Streatham incident happened two months after another terrorist released from prison, Usman Khan, carried out the London Bridge attack.
Unlike Khan’s family, who told an inquest earlier this year they were shocked and horrified to hear of what he had done, Amman’s family will be seeking to convince the coroner Sudesh should have been arrested earlier, rather than be killed.
The jury was also shown stills from CCTV footage of Amman running along Streatham High Road after stabbing the two people and then being shot outside Boots.
The first witness at the inquest was Detective Superintendent Dominic Murphy, who led the investigation into the Streatham attack, who was asked questions by Jonathan Hough QC, counsel to the inquest.
Det Supt Murphy said Amman was born in Coventry in the West Midlands and was the oldest of six boys born to parents who were from Sri Lanka.
He said Amman’s father returned home to Sri Lanka in 2006 and their mother, now alone, moved to London.
It was there that Sudesh got into trouble with the police in his teenage years and was arrested for a cannabis offence a year before he was detained for a terrorist offence.
While serving his sentence in Belmarsh prison a search of Sudesh’s cell found a note in Arabic in which he pledges himself to the Islamic State (Daesh).
Det Supt Murphy told the court that Detective Chief Superintendent Alexis Boon, of the Met's Counter Terrorism Command, had written to the governor of Belmarsh prison, Rob Davis, urging him to delay Amman's release.
Mr Hough asked him how Mr Davis responded.
“He responded by saying that it would not be possible to do that on the basis that if a disciplinary charge were pursued, it would have to be through an independent adjudicator, and that would not able to take place before that early release date came up. “
Mr Hough reiterated: “So the police asked about the possibility of extending the sentence and the governor said that was not possible?”
“Yes,” replied Det Supt Murphy.
Daesh is a terrorist group which is illegal in Russia.