Trial begins for London Uber driver who 'tried to decapitate' Tube passenger

Still from smartphone video shot at Leytonstone Underground Station show Muhiddin Mire being arrested following the alleged attack. Photo / Supplied
Still from smartphone video shot at Leytonstone Underground Station show Muhiddin Mire being arrested following the alleged attack. Photo / Supplied

A former Uber driver yelled "This is for my Syrian brothers, I'm going to spill your blood" as he tried to decapitate a Tube passenger with a blunt knife and attack four others in a "brutal" attack, a court heard today.

Somalia-born Muhiddin Mire, 30, attacked musician Lyle Zimmerman, 56, at Leytonstone Underground station on December 5 and lashed out at anyone else who got in his way, the Old Bailey heard.

The jury was told Mire was "motivated by revenge" for the bombing of Syria, and after the attack police found images of ISIS hostages having their throats cut and a graph of US and coalition air strikes on his phone.

The "random" attack in the east London station's busy ticket hall was captured on shocking CCTV footage as well as on the mobile phone of a member of the public, and the jury was warned the resulting footage was "shocking".

An onlooker famously responded: "You ain't no Muslim bruv" - words which became a tagline for news reports, Jonathan Rees QC, prosecuting, told the court.

Opening the trial, Mr Rees told how Mire, a former taxi driver on benefits, launched a brutal attack on "wholly innocent" stranger Mr Zimmerman, who was dressed distinctively in cowboy boots and hat and was carrying a mandolin.

Mr Rees said: "It is plain that the defendant had identified Mr Zimmerman as his intended target.

"As he followed him down the stairs, the defendant can be seen on the CCTV footage reaching into the inside pocket of his jacket with his right hand."

Muhaydin Mire is accused of an attempted murder at a Tube station in East London. Photo / Facebook
Muhaydin Mire is accused of an attempted murder at a Tube station in East London. Photo / Facebook

Footage of the incident showed Mire attacking the musician from behind in the ticket hall with a bread knife in his hand. The victim managed to break free but was chased around the area near the ticket barrier.

Mire repeatedly struck out at his head with a knife before grabbing hold of Mr Zimmerman and forcing him to the floor.

He then began to kick the victim to the body and head while passenger Louise McGuinness shouted at him to stop.

Mire told her: "This is for telling me to stop" before kicking Mr Zimmerman even harder, then another passenger stepped forward to intervene he was punched in the face.

Mire then bent over the motionless Mr Zimmerman and lifted up his top half to "saw at" his neck, the court heard.

Mr Rees said the knife was "relatively blunt" and had broken away from the handle, meaning it was "much harder to cut into the victim's neck."

The prosecutor said: "At the end of the assault, when Mr Zimmerman was lying motionless and defenceless on the floor of the ticket hall, the defendant crouched over him and quite deliberately began to cut Mr Zimmerman's throat with a knife blade.

"Mercifully, Mr Zimmerman survived the ordeal because, although he suffered three jagged wounds to the front of his neck, none of them caused any damage to any of the major blood vessels in that area."

The incident continued as Mire made his way up to street level where he came across a "remarkably brave" Polish man, Daniel Bielinski, and his girlfriend, Justyna Was.

He lashed out with the blade, but Mr Bielinski dodged out of the way and a Lithuanian security guard, Andrius Sabaliauskas, tried to intervene to calm him down.

Mr Rees said: "What happened next was extraordinary.

"Instead of running off to protect himself from the defendant, Mr Bielinski took out his mobile phone and began to record the defendant's actions at some considerable risk to himself.

"The events he recorded were dramatic. In short, after the defendant had stopped pursuing Mr Bielinski, he walked back into the subway where he lashed out with the knife blade towards various other Tube passengers who were either emerging from or going into the station.

"One of those individuals, a man by the name of Andrius Sabaliauskas, also showed great courage in seeking to engage with the defendant and calm him down."

Muhiddin Mire, 30, from Leytonstone is accused of trying to kill a 56-year-old musician at Leytonstone Tube station. Photo / Supplied
Muhiddin Mire, 30, from Leytonstone is accused of trying to kill a 56-year-old musician at Leytonstone Tube station. Photo / Supplied

Mr Bielinski continued to film events until police arrived and tasered Mire, and the mobile phone video also captured the defendant saying "If you're Muslim you get bombed" and "I'm going to attack your civilians."

Mr Rees said: "It provides an indication as to what motivated the defendant to attack random strangers with a knife.

"It appears he was motivated by revenge for what was occurring in Syria.

"The download of his phone revealed that he had images stored on his phone that included a graph showing numbers of US and coalition force air strikes on ISIS and images of hostages apparently taken just before they were executed by having their throats cut."

The court heard Mire accepts he used the knife and has pleaded guilty to wounding Mr Zimmerman with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and to attempting to wound four other Tube passengers.

But Mire denies the charge of attempted murder and the jury was told they must decide if at the time of the attack, Mire intended to kill Mr Zimmerman.

The court heard he was born in Somalia and came to Britain as a young boy with his brother and sister.

At the time of the attack, he was living in a one-bedroom council flat, not far from the Tube station and was receiving unemployment benefit.

Mire had lost his job as a minicab driver for Uber, and had a history of mental illness dating back to 2006, when he was admitted to hospital after he 'lost touch with reality' in a psychotic episode.

"His thought was very disordered, and he exhibited delusions of a persecutory, religious and grandiose nature," the court was told.

The incident was caught on camera. Photo / Supplied
The incident was caught on camera. Photo / Supplied

A month before the incident, on November 4, Mire's GP had referred him to the mental health access team at Thorpe Coombe Hospital in Waltham Forest, because he was suffering from "paranoid delusions" that he was being followed and monitored by people from MI5 and MI6.

The doctor said Mire felt "very depressed and suffered from anxiety and panic attacks" and had stopped working because of the delusions.

But he failed to attend an appointment on December 1 and launched his attack three days before the re-arranged visit.

One of the caretakers on the estate where he lived had seen him wearing traditional Muslim clothing rather than his normal jeans and t-shirt just over two weeks before the attack.

His brother and uncle had booked a trip for him to fly back to Somalia alone on December 6, but the attack happened a day earlier.

The graphic CCTV images played to the court, showed Mr Zimmerman - whose face was blacked out - moving slightly as he lay face down beside the ticket barrier, as Mire, in a hat and green jacket, knelt on his back and began sawing at his neck.

Mire had travelled on the tube into King's Cross and then out to Stratford, close to the Westfield shopping centre, in East London, on the day of the attack before heading back to Leytonstone.

He was on the same train as Mr Zimmerman, who was described as a "distinctive figure" dressed in cowboy boots and a hat, carrying an amplifier in one hand and a mandolin in the other, with a guitar strapped on his back, listening to music on his iPhone.

Mr Zimmerman was followed by Mire from the tube who was said to have already identified him as his target and was reaching inside his jacket for the knife.

The knife had a black handle and a silver blade with a serrated edge and looked like a small bread knife, the court was told.

"As Mr Zimmerman approached the ticket barrier with his Oyster card at the ready, the defendant attacked him from behind," Mr Rees said.

"The attack was wholly unprovoked and nothing of any significance had passed between the two men beforehand."

Mire, who is 6ft 3ins tall, allegedly grabbed his victim from behind around the neck, swung him around and threw him off his feet.

"When the victim was on the ground, the defendant began to kick him repeatedly to his body and head."

When one passenger tried to intervene, Mire punched him in the face and when another begged him to stop, he allegedly kicked his victim harder, saying: "This is for telling me to stop."

The knife broke in the attack but Mire recovered it and crouched over the motionless victim, lifting up the body.

Mr Rees said: "The knife appears to have been relatively blunt. One witness recalls hearing the victim's flesh rip as the blade was drawn across the throat."

When Ms McGuinness, shouted: "Stop you a*******" Mire allegedly told her she would be next.

Mr Zimmerman was left lying in a pool of blood in the ticket office and was treated by a junior doctor who was on his way home.

The trial continues tomorrow.

- Daily Mail

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