Man jailed for plot to behead British soldier has sentenced reduced

Lee Rigby.Lee Rigby.
Lee Rigby.
A man jailed for hatching a plot to behead a British soldier inspired by the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby has won a reduction in his sentence.

Five judges in London quashed the original custodial term of 22 years imposed in the case of Brusthom Ziamani, who was arrested in an east London street carrying a knife and a hammer in a rucksack, and replaced it with 19 years.

Ziamani's sentence was among a number reviewed by the panel of Court of Appeal judges, headed by Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, in which defendants had either been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, terrorist offences.

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In another case, the judges increased a prison term from five to eight years. Mohammed Kahar, from Sunderland, was found guilty last year of spreading Islamic State's message and planning to travel to Syria. Read more here

Lord Thomas explained that the Appeal Court had considered it "important" to give guidance on sentencing for offences under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006 - which relates to the preparation of terrorist acts - because sentences had varied "very, very substantially".

He announced: "Those who involve themselves in terrorism whether by commission, the provision of assistance or engaging in conduct in preparation must expect a severe sentence.

"Until the publication by the Sentencing Council of a guideline on terrorist offences, this judgment provides direction that will achieve consistency of approach in these difficult cases ... "

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Ziamani, now 20, was found guilty at the Old Bailey in February last year of a Section 5 offence. He was later given an extended sentence, made up of a custodial term of 22 years and an extended licence period of five years.

The court was told that he had researched the location of Army cadet bases in the south east of the capital. He had shown his ex-girlfriend weapons, described Fusilier Rigby's killer Michael Adebolajo as a "legend" and told her he would "kill soldiers".

The Old Bailey heard he was a "lone wolf" who had been radicalised after being befriended by members of a radical Muslim organisation which held meetings and demonstrations in London.

Lord Thomas, announcing the court's conclusions, said: "We are entirely satisfied that the judge was right in concluding that Ziamani was dangerous; he had heard the evidence, including that of Ziamani."

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His offending was towards the "very top of the scale" for offences under Section 5, "but, given his youth, we consider that the custodial part of the sentence, namely 22 years, was too long".

The extension period at the maximum of five years was "entirely correct".

The judges agreed with Attorney General Jeremy Wright that the sentence imposed on Kahar at Newcastle Crown Court was "unduly lenient".

Takeaway chef Kahar, then 37, was convicted of 10 terror charges. The trial judge said he had taken steps to go to Syria with the intention of going to fight with IS.

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Announcing the decision in that case, Lord Thomas said his offending was serious "given his persistence in attempting to persuade others to join Islamic State and fight for them or to join in their terrorism".

A number of other sentence challenges imposed in terror cases were rejected. In one a minimum term was reduced from 25 to 23 years.

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