Thursday, February 2, 2012

Big Ben bomb gang out in six years: Outrage as terror plotters plead guilty in turn for light sentences

A terror gang who planned a Mumbai-style bomb blitz in London could walk free in less than six years after striking an extraordinary 11th-hour plea bargain.

The four Muslim fanatics intended to unleash a Christmas campaign of atrocities with targets including the Stock Exchange, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Palace of Westminster and the London Eye.

They and five others had been facing a five-month trial at Woolwich Crown Court and could have expected sentences of 20 years.

But at the 11th hour they decided to plead guilty after a judge indicated they would receive lesser sentences for admitting the plot.

The Crown wanted to avoid both the estimated £2.5million cost of a high-security trial and the possibility of acquittals.

So a rare so-called ‘Goodyear’ direction hearing was arranged in which defence barristers receive guidance from the judge about how long he plans to jail those accused if they admit their guilt.

In this case, Mr Justice Wilkie suggested ringleader Mohammed Chowdhury, 21, would receive no more than 13½ years and his 28-year-old accomplice, Shah Rahman, 12 years.

He said the case did not merit an indefinite imprisonment for public protection because their plans were not developed, and he took account of Chowdhury’s youth.

Chowdhury is likely to spend less than half of his sentence behind bars owing to time already served on remand, while Rahman can expect to be out in five years. Read More