Police in Westminster

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It was “miraculous” that no-one died as a result of the defendant’s actions, the Old Bailey has heard

A driver targeted cyclists and police outside the Houses of Parliament in an attack designed to “kill as many people as possible”, a court has been told.

Salih Khater aimed his car at members of the public before swerving towards police officers in Parliament Square, his trial at the Old Bailey heard.

His actions of 14 August 2018 were “designed to cause maximum death and injury”, the jury was told.

Mr Khater, 30, of Birmingham, denies two counts of attempted murder.

‘Terrorist motive’

Opening the case for the prosecution, Alison Morgan QC said the defendant first drove at cyclists waiting at traffic lights, before driving at officers guarding the side entrance to the Palace of Westminster and then crashing into a security barrier.

She said: “He caused widespread fear and chaos but miraculously, and contrary to his intentions, he did not kill anyone that day.

“Those who were faced with a vehicle being driven at them at high velocity somehow, and largely by their quick responses, managed to avoid death or very serious injury.”

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Julia Quenzler

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Salih Khater, depicted here at a magistrates’ court hearing last year, denies attempted murder

Ms Morgan told jurors Mr Khater’s reason for the attack was unclear.

But she suggested that by targeting officers guarding the Palace of Westminster, the defendant had a “terrorist motive”.

She added: “Using his car in the way that he did, driving in the manner and direction he did, the prosecution alleges that it is obvious that he intended to kill as many people as possible.”

Jurors were shown CCTV footage of the defendant’s silver Ford Fiesta driving at cyclists before crashing into barriers as two uniformed police officers dived out of the way.

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Met Police

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The silver Ford Fiesta allegedly driven by Mr Khater smashed into a security barrier

Footage also showed Mr Khater driving through Parliament Square at 01:00 BST, allegedly conducting reconnaissance.

He returned about six hours later and completed four laps of the square before launching the attack, jurors were told.

The Sudanese national, who was granted asylum in the UK in 2010, had shown signs of “paranoia” about British authorities in the months leading up to the attack, the court heard.

Ms Morgan told the jury: “The defendant selected an iconic site. This was no coincidence.”

Mr Khater has also pleaded not guilty to two alternative charges of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm.

The trial continues.

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