Islamic extremist and inmate radicalised behind bars are jailed for life after prison terror attack

Two Islamic extremists who tried to murder a prison guard have both been sentenced to life after trying to murder a prison officer in a terror attack behind bars.

Brusthom Ziamani, 25, is five years into a 19-year sentence for a 2014 plot to behead a soldier inspired by the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby.

He and Muslim convert Baz Hockton, 26, who was radicalised in jail by Ziamani, screamed ‘Allahu Akbar’ and wore hoax bomb vests as they set upon Prison Officer Neil Trundle with a shank on January 9.

They lured the officer into a cupboard space off-limits to prisoners at maximum-security HMP Whitemoor by asking him to fetch them a spoon before attacking him with makeshift weapons.

Ziamani charged at staff when they intervened to help their colleague, revealing his fake suicide vest as he told them: ‘I have a bomb.’

He also assaulted female prison officer Georgina Ibbotson and nurse Jane Cowles in the rampage. 

Both inmates were found in possession of Islamic extremist writings when their cells were searched after the brutal murder bid.

The pair used lumps of twisted metal, makeshift stabbing instruments and a homemade shank, leaving PO Trundle covered in blood with slash wounds to his neck, chest and arms. 

Baz Hockton

Brusthom Ziamani (left), 25, is five years into a 19-year sentence for a 2014 plot to behead a soldier inspired by the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby. He and Muslim convert Baz Hockton (right), 26, who was radicalised in jail, screamed ‘Allahu Akbar’ and wore hoax bomb vests as they set upon Prison Officer Neil Trundle with a shank on January 9 

They lured the officer into a cupboard space off-limits to prisoners at maximum-security HMP Whitemoor by asking him to fetch them a spoon before attacking him with makeshift weapons

They lured the officer into a cupboard space off-limits to prisoners at maximum-security HMP Whitemoor by asking him to fetch them a spoon before attacking him with makeshift weapons

Ziamani was jailed for 22 years in 2015 for planning a copycat terror attack inspired by the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby.

Guards ‘knew Baz Hockton had fallen under Brusthom Ziamani’s spell’: Dossier suggests prison officers allowed the pair to plot the attack under their noses

Prison guards knew that Baz Hockton had fallen under Brusthom Ziamani’s spell while the pair were in jail, according to reports.

Hockton was originally jailed for a series of assaults in Ramsgate in 2016, including a knife attack on a man with whom he had a minor argument. 

At the time, police said it was ‘impossible to know’ why he had ‘launched unprovoked attacks on random people’.

Hockton, who converted to Islam in jail, had previously chronicled his hedonistic lifestyle on social media, stating that ‘getting high and money is ma motive’, posting images of himself drinking and using drugs. 

Yet in prison, he retained access to Facebook – allowing him to upload a mobile phone image of himself that he would be home soon even weeks before the attack, the BBC reports. 

His radicalisation took place in prison, mainly at Whitemoor, where he quickly fell under the influence of Ziamani and was indoctrinated with the violent dogma of the so-called Islamic State.  

An intelligence report created by a prison officer shortly before the attack noted that the pair had grown close and were meeting up frequently.

Given Ziamani was also a known radicaliser, the report raises questions about what the prison guards knew and how they could have allowed the pair to plot their terror attack. 

Ziamani boasted in court of gaining access to a memory card containing extremist material, which he then transcribed for Hockton.

However, Ziamani had received a certificate of achievement at Whitemoor and, on the morning of the attack, had been due to attend a painting and decorating workshop.

As a teenager, Ziamani’s own radicalisation had been rapid, after he began associating with Anjem Choudary and members of the banned group al-Muhajiroun. 

He had researched cadet bases in south London online and penning extremist posts on social media platforms. 

Hockton has also been handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 23 years. Mrs Justice May said she was satisfied he was ‘inspired by extremist beliefs’ and had a ‘terrorist connection’.

She told him: ‘Your current twisted view of Islam needs to change.’

Ziamani, then 19, wanted to emulate his heroes Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale by decapitating a member of the armed forces and posing for a photograph with the severed head.

His mission was foiled when an anti-terrorist officer spotted him in the street in east London with a 12-inch knife and a black Islamic flag and he was convicted of preparing a terrorist act.

While serving his sentence Ziamani became intent on killing any ‘agent of the British state.’

He continued writing jihadist texts and reading ISIS propaganda in his cell, calling on readers to ‘slay kuffar’ (non-believers) and ‘march to death with confidence.’

Mrs Justice May told Ziamani: ‘In the event the violence against him was short lived but it was still shockingly violent whilst it continued.

‘Nothing has changed as these current circumstances demonstrate, you adhere to an extremist ideology which continues to persist, you were eight months into a programme to address such beliefs.

‘The attack has had very serious effects, I commend him for coming to court and facing you and giving his account.

‘The offences were inspired by extremist islam and inspired by terrorist motivations. This was a planned terrorist offence.

‘Had these offence stood alone the sentence would have been one of 36 years. Were it not for the fact that you are already serving an indeterminate sentence.

‘Five years into a 19-year term in extended sentence for unrelated, your minimum term must reflect that.

‘The minimum term is 21 years, it must be served in full before you are eligible to be considered for release.’

Hockton, who has a long history of violence and possessing bladed articles, is three years into a 12-year jail term for stabbing and punching a man in October 2016 and slashing another the following month.

He was also sentenced to a concurrent 10-year term for wounding a prisoner with intent to cause grievous bodily harm at Swaleside prison, on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, in April last year.

The court heard how he slashed victim Tristan Walker with a weapon that was never recovered, leaving his victim with a scar. 

At Whitemoor, Ziamani had gradually befriended Hockton – who converted to Islam before becoming radicalised during his time in the maximum-security jail. 

CCTV footage shown during the trial showed Ziamani and Hockton following PO Trundle as he walked towards the store cupboard before attacking him

CCTV footage shown during the trial showed Ziamani and Hockton following PO Trundle as he walked towards the store cupboard before attacking him

Both suspects were pinned down by officers after an emergency alarm was sounded in the building following the attack

Both suspects were pinned down by officers after an emergency alarm was sounded in the building following the attack

‘If it wasn’t for their bravery, I’m sure I wouldn’t be here today’: Prison officer attacked by Islamic terrorists at maximum-security jail thanks colleagues for help

Following the verdicts, Prison Officer Neil Trundle, who has 14 years of experience working in prisons, 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.’

Reliving the attack, Mr Trundle 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.’

Hockton had been imprisoned for knifing a man with a meat cleaver over a minor argument in October 2016.

He was previously jailed for a second assault after terrorising members of the public as they walked past a KFC in Ramsgate, Kent, slashing one in the cheek and fighting another.

When a brave woman intervened, Hockton repeatedly punched her in the face.

He refused to give evidence during the trial, while Ziamani claimed the prison attack was fuelled by incidents of religious discrimination he had suffered at the hands of HMP Whitemoor staff.

The terrorist claimed that officers had mocked his qamis – traditional Muslim robes.

‘They would say lift up your dress and give us a twirl,’ Ziamani said.

He insisted the assault on PO Trundle had been spontaneous and provoked by institutional racism, claiming another prisoner had been called a ‘black c**t’ during a run-in with a guard.

But an Old Bailey jury had unanimously convicted them both of attempted murder – accepting the prosecution case that the murder plot had been carefully planned.

The pair had taken elements of mainstream Islam and ‘twisted and corrupted’ it to suit their bloodthirsty agenda, amassing materials over time with which to create their fake bomb vests.

Prosecutor Annabel Darlow QC, who also secured Ziamani’s conviction in 2015, told jurors: ‘They committed the attack for terrorist purposes.

‘When another officer tried to intervene Mr Ziamani opened his jacket, underneath his jacket he was wearing a hoax suicide belt as was Mr Hockton.

‘As he opened up his jacket he told the prison officers ‘I’ve got a bomb.’ 

The aftermath of the attack showed Mr Trundle on the floor nursing serious head wounds as staff gathered around him

The aftermath of the attack showed Mr Trundle on the floor nursing serious head wounds as staff gathered around him

Jurors were shown CCTV footage of the incident, which was briefly interrupted when two female staff members attempted to intervene and were assaulted by Ziamani. Pictured, Whitemoor high-security prison in Cambridgeshire

Jurors were shown CCTV footage of the incident, which was briefly interrupted when two female staff members attempted to intervene and were assaulted by Ziamani. Pictured, Whitemoor high-security prison in Cambridgeshire

Expert calls for reforms to prison management of radicalisation behind bars amid fears murder of prison officers by terrorists is ‘creeping ever closer’ 

Responding to today’s sentencing, Professor Ian Acheson, a former prison governor and a senior adviser at the Counter Extremism Project, said he feared the murder of a prison officer by a terrorist was ‘creeping ever closer’.

‘The system of risk management and intervention with terrorist offenders that we have got inside prisons is not fit for purpose,’ he said.

‘We need a fundamental review of how we manage the risk posed by, let’s be clear, a very small number of prisoners in custody at the moment.’

He said the case ‘should be a wake-up call’, and there should be discussion about placing such prisoners ‘under proper surveillance, so they can’t fashion suicide belts in one of the most surveilled and secure environments in the country’. 

‘Both men strenuously and forcefully resisted all efforts to restrain and after the attack Mr Ziamani attempted to barricade himself in his cell.

‘It’s the prosecution’s case that the defendants were motivated to commit the attack by extremist Islamic ideology. It was a terrorist attack.

‘Neil Trundle had been a prison officer for over 14 years at the time of the attack. He had been working on A Wing since April 2019 and through his role knew both Ziamani and Hockton.

‘He had no negative dealings with either man before the attack and there is no known reason for either man to have attacked PO Trundle based upon personal history.

‘He was known as a notably kind and helpful officer.’

Ms Darlow added: ‘It is clear from the ideological material that the underlying belief was that they had a duty to carry out jihad – jihad of course having a safer meaning to millions – but the twisted ideology has come to mean quite simply killing agents of the British state.

‘The kuffar (non-believers), as we’ve seen in the writings, are repeatedly vilified as beings who are there really to be defeated, terrorised.

‘In order to carry out jihad by attacking and killing as we say they planned to do an officer of the British state, if they succeeded they would accomplish their mission of what they regarded as holy jihad.

‘What we’ve seen throughout this case we suggest is these defendants in the material they’ve written and looked at in their cells is they’ve taken small fragments, tiny fragments of one of the world’s oldest religions, Islam, and twisted and corrupted them into something that suits their corrupted purposes.’

Ziamani, formerly of Camberwell, south-east London, and Hockton, formerly of Wellington Crescent, Ramsgate, both denied but were convicted of attempted murder.

Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: ‘I am very pleased with today’s sentence. This was a calculated and horrific attack by two very dangerous prisoners who had one aim – to try and murder prison staff.

‘We worked closely with policing colleagues and the prison service to thoroughly investigate this incident and ensured these men were put before the courts.

‘Our investigation showed they were motivated to carry out this attack by their extreme ideology. As a result, the court were able to sentence them as the terrorists they are and bring heavier penalties to bear. They now face further time in prison.

‘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.’

Neil 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.’

Judge May said that Ziamani and Hockton had been inspired by their adherence to Islamist ideology and that ‘the violence was short lived but shockingly and strikingly ferocious.’ 

She also said that the attack has had very severe and long term effects on the prison officer and she commended the victims for their courage throughout the trial.

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