I’ve changed my ways, said Streatham terrorist three days before knife attack

·3-min read
Sudesh Amman shopping (top left) two days before the attack, and then walking along Streatham High Street (top right), before launching an attack and running away (bottom pictures) - Met Police/PA
Sudesh Amman shopping (top left) two days before the attack, and then walking along Streatham High Street (top right), before launching an attack and running away (bottom pictures) - Met Police/PA

A convicted terrorist told a mentor he had changed his ways, days before carrying out a high street knife rampage which ended in him being shot dead by police, an inquest has heard.

Sudesh Amman, 20, confided how he "now realised" that those who committed terrorist acts ended up "pushing people away" from Islam.

Amman, from Coventry and of Sri Lankan heritage, made the comments on January 30 2020, three days before he stole a knife and ran down a south London street stabbing randomly at members of the public before being killed.

An inquest into Amman's death at the Royal Courts of Justice heard Amman had been provided with support from both a practical and a theological mentor, both of whom had met with him following his release from prison earlier in January.

The pair described being "shocked" and "gobsmacked" when they realised they knew the man responsible for the atrocity on Streatham High Road.

A report prepared by Witness M following his final meeting, read by Jonathan Hough QC, counsel to the inquest, said: "He (Amman) said he now realised that people who hurt other people through things like acts of terror were pushing people away from the faith and causing hatred."

Giving evidence to the inquest on Wednesday, Witness M said Amman had been "the most relaxed that I'd seen him" in all of their previous four face-to-face chats, both in prison and out.

Witness M said: "He was happy to talk, he had no moments where he held back from saying anything and he seemed happy and relieved at being released.

"I took him at his word. He seemed sincere the way he was saying it."

Asked by Mr Hough if Amman had been "plausible", Witness M replied: "Yes, I believe he was."

He added he did not feel the need to report any behaviour of concern about Amman but had later felt "shocked" after reports of the attack emerged.

Witness M said: "I saw when it said the incident was in Streatham, I knew I visited him, I hoped it wasn't (him).

"I kept watching the news and I had a little bit of disbelief, to be honest."

A second mentor, known only as Witness T to protect his identity, said his duty was to discuss religious matters with Amman during their only meeting, on January 29 2020.

A report prepared for Witness T ahead of that meeting raised a number of concerns with Amman, including over his "mindset" and his potential for indoctrination.

Following that meeting, Witness T described how Amman revealed himself to be "ignorant" of Islam, but said he had "kept to himself" in the week since his release from prison to a Streatham probation hostel in case people believed he was radicalising others.

Witness T agreed with Mr Hough that Amman's background of offending and behaviour in prison meant his was "quite a tough case".

Witness T said he did not get the impression that Amman was being insincere. He said he learned of Amman's atrocity, which left two people injured, on the day it happened.

"I was gobsmacked, I was shocked, I was surprised," he told the inquest.

Amman was automatically released from Belmarsh prison on January 23 2020, part-way through his 40-month sentence for preparing and engaging in acts of terrorism.

The inquest previously heard how prison intelligence suggested he had made threats to kill the Queen, to commit a terrorist act, and radicalise others.

The inquest continues.

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