Prison attack accused wore fake suicide belt to ‘freak out’ staff, court told

Brusthom Ziamani court case
Brusthom Ziamani court case - (Copyright PA Archive)
15:22pm, Fri 02 Oct 2020
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A convicted terrorist has denied launching a martyrdom attack on a prison officer, saying he only wore a fake suicide belt to “freak out” guards.

Brusthom Ziamani, 25, described to jurors how he and fellow inmate Baz Hockton, 26, set upon prison officer Neil Trundle in a bid to be moved from top security Whitemoor jail in Cambridgeshire, the Old Bailey heard.

Giving evidence, Ziamani, who has a conviction for plotting a terror attack on a soldier, said he only intended to cause “some harm” to Mr Trundle, like a broken nose.

He also admitted assaulting prison staff Jayne Cowles and Georgina Ibbotson when they attempted to intervene.

The day before the attack, Ziamani said he spoke to Hockton in the exercise yard.

He told jurors: “Previous to that I spoke to him about his treatment, how officers was towards him.

“He thought they thought he’s a traitor because obviously he’s a white Muslim.

“He said to me if I’m involved he’s going to get involved.

“He wanted to be moved as well from Whitemoor.

“I knew the ramifications, I had a feeling I would get knocked about by officers.”

Hockton allegedly showed him his belt and told the defendant: “Tomorrow morning wear that as well because that will freak out officers, make them scared.”

Ziamani told jurors: “I thought ‘why not?’”

Asked what the point of it was, Ziamani said: “Keep the officers scared, keep them at bay and freak them out.”

He cut up some bottles and used wire from a DVD player to fashion his own hoax device, the court heard.

The defendant said there was no discussion in advance about what makeshift weapons to use.

He added: “I was attacked at one stage so I always have them wherever I go to protect myself.

“It’s always in my pocket.”

Joel Bennathan QC, defending, asked: “The prosecution case is that you intended to become martyrs to carry out that attack. Was this true?”

Ziamani replied: “No, not the case.”

Mr Bennathan said: “Had you ever seen a prison officer carrying a gun in Whitemoor prison?”

The defendant replied: “No never”.

Whitemoor jail attack court case - (Copyright PA Media)

On the morning of January 9, Ziamani said he felt “nervous because I knew what was going to happen”.

He never had an issue with Mr Trundle before he asked him for a spoon from a store cupboard and launched the attack, the defendant said.

Ziamani was shown video footage of the incident which left Mr Trundle covered in blood.

Describing his role, Ziamani said he pulled the officer out of the cupboard and “started punching him to the back of his head”.

He said he wanted the attack to be out in the open to be “right before their eyes”.

He shouted Allahu Akbar to alert other officers and “shorten the attack”, the defendant said

He punched Ms Ibbotson “on the spur of the moment” because he did not want her to hit him with her baton, Ziamani said.

Whitemoor jail attack court case - (Copyright PA Media)

On why he then went back to attack Mr Trundle a second time, he said: “It’s a clear statement to show I’m right on top of your officer.

“I’m a security risk to the officer so they’ve got to move me.”

Asked how serious he thought the assault had to be to get transferred, Ziamani said: “Serious enough, if he got, for example, a broken nose or broken jaw, something like that.”

Cross-examining, Annabel Darlow QC said Ziamani had deliberately waited until his target had opened the cupboard door to try to force him inside “leaving the two of you and your five weapons alone with Mr Trundle”.

Ziamani denied it.

Ms Darlow went on to suggest he had dragged Mr Trundle’s body on the ground to make his neck and head “more open to attack”.

She asked: “Why is it both you and Mr Hockton attack his head and neck area if you are not intending to cause him serious harm or kill him?”

The defendant said: “I’m not trying to hurt him or kill him or anything like that.”

Ms Darlow said: “You understand the prosecution case is you wanted to attack and kill Mr Trundle because you believed he was a legitimate target for jihad. That wasn’t your thought?”

Ziamani denied it, telling jurors he no longer believed in violent jihad.

Ziamani and Hockton have denied attempted murder and the Old Bailey trial continues.

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