Terrorist ‘just like an animal’ during stabbing rampage, hero officer says

A police officer has told how he pulled the trigger on his Taser gun but it failed to stop crazed terrorist Mahdi Mohamud who lunged at him with a fillet knife before he could reload.

Sergeant Lee Valentine, 31, said he felt "massively" lucky not to be more seriously injured in the attack last New Year's Eve.

He was with colleague Pc Tom Wright, 27, on duty at Manchester Victoria railway station when he heard a shocking scream as Mohamud launched the attack.

The crazed knifeman, 26, had walked up behind unsuspecting James Knox, screaming "Allahu Akbar!" and "Long live the Caliphate!" as he stabbed his victim repeatedly in the back, shoulders and head.

He then turned the knife on Mr Knox's companion, Anna Charlton, slashing her across the face after the couple, in their 50s, randomly crossed his path heading for a tram platform shortly before 9pm last December 31.

Police restraining the suspect (Sam Clack/PA)
Police restraining the suspect (Sam Clack/PA)

Mohamud on Tuesday at Manchester Crown Court admitted three counts of attempted murder and one count of 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".

Sgt Valentine said: "It was just like a scream I had never heard before, it was literally like someone was being killed."

Fellow British Transport Police (BTP) Pc Ashleigh Williams, 27, and her colleague Marsha Selby, 28, along with two tram staff confronted Mohamud, who "like an animal" was "fixated" on stabbing and slashing.

The suspect was pepper sprayed before seconds later Pc Wright, 27, arrived along with Sgt Valentine, the only one armed with a 50,000 volt Taser gun.

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

"When I got there, there were literally four yellow jackets blocking the platform as if to stop him coming through.

"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.

"Then I've come down, got past the guys and girls in the yellow jackets in the line, just gone in front so I can get a decent shot at tasering him.

"It just didn't work.

"He had a really thick coat on, like a bubble jacket, and the old style Tasers that we use, sometimes it's ineffective if somebody is wearing a number of layers or a thick coat.

"I didn't even get the chance to take the fired cartridge off the top before he just started running towards me.

"He probably closed a seven foot gap in half a second.

"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.

"He's just gone for it."

The officer put his hands up to protect his head and Mohamud stabbed the officer in his shoulder before grappling on the ground as the other officers dived in.

He said: "One of the things for me, obviously when I've landed on top of him being so close to his face to be literally like looking in his eyes and he's like – there's nothing there.

It's just like a complete, it's...I don't know, you can't describe it, he just, he just wasn't there.

"I think we've all dealt with people who have got certain issues, drugged up people, people who are really drunk, taken all sorts of stuff, but the look on his face when you are that close to him and you just see nothing there, it's just...he's shouting and he's screaming and he's sweating.

Manchester knife attack
Police at Victoria Station in Manchester (Pat Hurst/PA)

"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.

"Like just, he just was not there, it was just like, it was just like an animal."

Sgt Valentine suffered a stab wound and was treated in hospital.

He and his BTP colleagues and the two tram staff received Chief Constable's commendations for their bravery.

Sgt Valentine added: "My injuries weren't serious, the injuries to the couple were serious, but we've spoke to them since and they've bounced back from it.

"And I think the important thing for me is nobody died, no one, and that's the key thing."

He has returned to work and will be back on duty on New Year's Eve.

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