09 August 2021

Terrorist ‘lunged towards police with knife’ before being shot dead

09 August 2021

An undercover officer has described the final moments of homegrown terrorist Sudesh Amman’s life as he lunged towards armed police with his knife raised towards the sky before being shot dead.

Amman spent around 30 minutes walking from his probation hostel to nearby Streatham High Road in south London before emerging from a shop with a stolen knife and stabbing members of the public in broad daylight.

Amman’s rampage was stopped after 62 seconds when armed police shot and killed him outside Boots, as horrified members of the public looked on. His two victims survived.

Giving evidence at the 20-year-old’s inquest on Monday, the undercover officer said he saw Amman bolt up the street with the knife in his hand from his vantage point in a side street.

Sudesh Amman pictured on his way to commit the Streatham terror attack in February 2020 (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

The officer, known only as BX113 to protect his identity, said: “I could see he appeared to be carrying a dark-handled knife with a shiny blade, approximately seven to eight inches.

“He had that in one of his hands pointing up towards the sky.

“He was running northbound when I first saw him.

“I then saw the subject turn around … very quickly, with the knife in one of his hands pointing towards the sky, then ran in the direction of BX87 (another undercover police officer who had been among those to give chase).”

Police activity at the scene following the terror attack in Streatham High Road by Sudesh Amman (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Archive)

He said Amman charged at the police officer, who had an armed colleague nearby, before hearing two gun shots.

BX113 said: “I saw the subject fall down onto the ground.

“He moved his legs then he went very still.

“I noticed he appeared to have some items around his waist.

“They looked like silver coloured bottles attached around his waist.”

Sudesh Amman then turned around and went into Low Price Store to snatch the knife (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

Asked if the undercover officers had any other realistic choice when deciding to open fire on Amman, BX113 replied: “Absolutely not. There was no time.”

The witness said he thought Amman was wearing a suicide belt at the time.

It later emerged the device was a hoax, made from Irn Bru bottles, kitchen foil and parcel tape bought from Poundland two days earlier.

He was not given first aid due to concerns the device – which had not yet been assessed – could be a viable explosive.

Amman was formally pronounced dead around 90 minutes later.

The inquest, at the Royal Courts of Justice, heard Amman had been observed acting strangely, walking slowly and looking around in the half-hour before he died, during which he had a final phone call with his mother in which he apparently signed off with: “Bye bye, I love you mummy”.

He was walking along Streatham High Road when he made an about-turn and then went into Low Price Store where he snatched the knife on display.

Sudesh Amman at the till in Poundland in Streatham (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

It came as a superintendent responsible for the firearms strategy on the day Amman struck said tactics used at the time were the correct course of action.

The officer, known only as BX88, said: “I don’t see how we could have achieved a more effective result with the circumstances presented to us.

“I know that sounds harsh because Amman lost his life.

“We were responding to his actions, and his actions were attempting to kill people.”

Amman, who was originally from Coventry and of Sri Lankan descent, had been automatically released from Belmarsh prison 10 days earlier, part-way through a 40-month sentence for obtaining and disseminating terrorist materials.

The inquest was adjourned until Tuesday.

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