Kent

Oxford Street terror plotter Lewis Ludlow jailed

Lewis Ludlow - custody image Image copyright Counter Terrorism Policing South East
Image caption Lewis Ludlow is a Muslim convert who used the name Ali Hussain and was nicknamed "The Eagle"

An Islamic State (IS) supporter who planned to kill 100 people in a "spectacular" terror attack in London has been jailed.

Lewis Ludlow, 27, from Rochester, Kent, was going to target Oxford Street with a bomb-laden truck after being refused permission to leave the UK.

The Old Bailey heard he planned the attack after being told to make the British people "pay in their blood".

He was sentenced to life imprisonment and will serve a minimum of 13 years.

Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC said he was satisfied that Ludlow was "engaged in preparations to launch a spectacular multi victim attack".

"Multiple deaths were risked and very likely to be caused," he said.

Muslim convert Ludlow, who called himself "The Eagle", carried out reconnaissance of central London targets and filmed a pledge of allegiance to IS.

Detectives recovered torn-up notes from bins outside his home which listed potential targets, including the Disney Store on Oxford Street, and said as many as 100 people could be killed in an attack using a bomb-laden truck.

He had also considered attacking Madame Tussaud's and St Paul's Cathedral.

Image copyright Counter Terrorism Policing South East
Image caption Ludlow carried out reconnaissance of central London targets

Sentencing him, Judge Hilliard said Ludlow had "shown an interest in extremism for a number of years" which involved a "deep and genuine attachment to its objectives".

He described him as "nobody's fool" and said he was not being forced to do anything by a Philippines-based IS militant, with whom Ludlow was plotting.

"I do not regard you as suggestible or easily taken advantage of, " he said.

"You were an enthusiastic participant in a joint plan."

He dismissed a claim by Ludlow made during hearings earlier this year that he had disengaged from the terror plot early on.

He also said there was no evidence that Ludlow had changed his mindset before being arrested in April last year.

The judge said Ludlow's autism and depression did not explain his "participation in these offences", and added that his "adherence to violent Jihad" was the "result of free choices made by you".

Image copyright Counter Terrorism Policing South East
Image caption Ludlow made detailed notes of possible targets in London

The former Royal Mail worker, who called himself "The Ghost", had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group and was communicating with an IS militant in the Philippines.

He had planned to join the group in that country but his passport was revoked, leaving him feeling like "a trapped animal unable to escape from its cage".

In a video shown in court, Ludlow said: "I have nothing for this country of Britain. I spit on your citizenship, your passport, you can go to hell with that."

Ludlow said the cancellation of his passport "literally broke my heart" and he had then been encouraged by his Filipino contact to carry out a terror attack in the UK instead.

He pleaded guilty in August to preparing acts of terrorism, but claimed he had abandoned the idea.

He also admitted funding IS abroad and was sentenced to a further seven years in prison to run concurrently.

Det Ch Supt Kath Barnes, head of Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE), said: "I have no doubt that Ludlow was fully intent on committing a serious violent act."

Update 26 March 2019: This story has been amended following a revision of Ludlow's sentence. Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC cut the sentence to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 13 years and two and a half months, down from 15 years. The Old Bailey judge said there had been an error in calculating Ludlow's discount for pleading guilty.

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