A TERRORIST who launched a frenzied knife attack on commuters and police at Manchester Victoria train station last New Year's Eve has been sentenced to life with a minimum term of 11 years.

Mahdi Mohamud, who will begin his sentence in a high-security psychiatric hospital, raised the fillet knife and walked up behind unsuspecting James Knox, 54, screaming "Allahu Akbar!" and "Long live the Caliphate!" as he stabbed his victim repeatedly in the back, shoulders and head.

The 26-year-old then turned the knife on Mr Knox's companion, Anna Charlton, 57, slashing her across the face after the couple randomly crossed his path heading for a tram home shortly before 9pm last December 31.

Sgt Lee Valentine, 31, was also stabbed in the shoulder as the defendant was confronted and arrested by British Transport Police (BTP).

Mohamud, diagnosed as suffering paranoid schizophrenia, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to three counts of attempted murder and one count of the possession of a document or record likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, a manual titled, "the seven most lethal ways to strike with a knife".

Alison Morgan QC, prosecuting, argued though Mohamud was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and this may have "disinhibited" his behaviour, the attack was "not simply a product of that mental illness" given the months of planning, his extremist ideology and desire to perform "jihad."

The court heard the defendant, a Dutch national from a Somali family who has lived in the UK since the age of nine, gained a first-class degree in mechanical engineering from Leeds University in 2016.

But after gaining a placement with Rolls Royce in 2015 he suffered a drug induced psychosis and his mental health deteriorated with him being sectioned and spending time in mental hospitals in the UK and Somalia.

Rebecca Trowler QC, mitigating, told the court the defendant's mental illness acted as the "driver" for the attack.

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith sentenced Mohamud to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 11 years.

The 'Hybrid Order' means the defendant will remain in a hospital until until his mental state has recovered sufficiently for him to be transferred to prison to complete the rest of his sentence.

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said: "In general terms your mental illness did not cause you to be unable to distinguish between right and wrong.

"For these main reasons I conclude that, though your mental illness made a significant contribution, probably by exacerbating the seeds of Islamic radicalisation and by a disinhibiting effect, you retain substantial responsibility and culpability for your acts."

Earlier the court heard Mohamud walked the mile from his family home in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, to the busy city centre train station where he launched the attack shortly before 9pm.

Mr Knox suffered 13 injuries including a skull fracture while Ms Charlton's right lung was punctured and she suffered a slash to her forehead that cut down to the bone.
Police later recovered a large amount of what police called "counter-terrorism mindset material", including images, Islamic State propaganda, hate-speeches by extreme Islamists and the document about how to carry out knife attacks.

Mohamud was known to mental health services but was not subject to a care plan and his family had made him a doctor's appointment and slipped anti-psychotic medication into his food in the days before he travelled to and from Somalia on several occasions between 2016 and 2018.

During that time he accessed "significant extremist material" and began drafting documents that would later be of significance to the attack that he committed, the court heard.

He returned to the UK on November 12, 2018, with a "schedule" or diary for carrying out his jihad with an "endgame" on December 31, the court was told.

The sentencing hearing, stretched across two days, heard reports from a number of psychiatrists, as the prosecution and defence disagreed over the extent to which the defendant's mental health could explain the offences he committed.

Officers who were first on the scene and bravely tackled knifeman Mahdi Mohamud have been speaking about their roles.

PC Ashley Williams, aged 27, from Bury, was first on the scene along with 28-year-old fellow PC Marsha Selby and two Metrolink tram staff, closely followed by 27-year-old PC Tom Wright, from Rossendale and Sgt Lee Valentine, aged 31.

Sgt Valentine was stabbed by Mohamud after the officer's Taser proved ineffective.

PC Williams told how they were first alerted to a problem at Victoria station.

"Me and Marsha were patrolling the station, Lee and Tom were stood by the barriers," she said

"We were walking along in front of the shops where WH Smiths is, heard a scream, looked onto the Metrolink platforms and we thought there was a fight going on so kind of started running over towards it.

"As we got closer, that's when we saw the knife and realised it wasn't a fight, it was a little bit more serious than that.

"The suspect stabbing the other two people."

Neither PC Williams or PC Slby had Tasers and so, as PC Williams radioed for help, PC Selby used pepper spray on Mohamud, without any effect.

Two Metrolink staff, PC Wright and Sgt Valentine quickly arrived after hearing a scream.

I think we all heard the same scream. It was just like a scream I had never heard before, it was literally like someone was being killed, said Sgt Valentine.

"As we got to where the Metrolink tracks are there are a set of stairs that lead up to the concourse. Probably when I reach there is when I have clocked this knife.

"So knowing these three didn't have a Taser I got my Taser out straight away.

"You could just see him dancing around, waving this knife around, stepping towards us as if I'm going to sort of come towards you.

"I think I've shouted twice for him to drop the knife, because at that point I didn't know he had injured anybody, I couldn't see anybody injured. I didn't see the victims."

But Mohamud's coat was so thick that the Taser did not work and, before the sergeant had a chance to reload it, Mohamud started running towards im.

"He probably closed a seven foot gap in half a second," said Sgt Valentine.

"It was just like a dive, he flew, he probably jumped three or four foot off the ground and just sort of lunged, probably lunged at my head with his knife."

The sergeant grabbed Mohamud in a bear hug and landed on top of him as the knifeman stabbed him in the shoulder.

After his arrest police found Mohamud had two knives on him and a document titled Deadly Ways to Strike With a Knife.

PCs Wright and Williams said it was their training which helped them deal with the situation.

PC Wright said: "It sounds like a cliche but I think your training just takes you over. I don't remember that few seconds. You do stuff without thinking."

PC Williams added: "I think you just automatically do it and realise after that, that's kind of everything you get taught to do."

The officers told how, during the attack, Mohamud was shouting, screaming and sweating.

"The look on his face, not even that of like a madmen just somebody who was just like intent on, he just wasn't there," said Sgt Valentine.

"It was just like an animal."

"He was just so fixated on what he was doing," said PC Wright.

PC Williams added: "Pouring with sweat wasn't he? I don't think he blinked, his eyes were wide open."

PC Wright was the first to notice that his colleague had been stabbed. "It was horrible, " he said, adding that, if he had not been stopped, the knifeman would probably have carried on into the busy city.