The mother of a British man who converted to Islam and died fighting for the terrorist group al-Shabaab has said he is "burning in hell" for his crimes.

Thomas Evans, 25, was killed during a gun battle with Kenyan troops in June. The former Manchester United fan from High Wycombe, became radicalised in Britain and changed his name to Abdul Hakim before travelling to east Africa in 2011.

A Channel 4 documentary, My Son the Jihadi, found witnesses who claim a man fitting Evans's description led attacks on Kenyan villages, singling out Christians and cutting their throats.

His mother, Sally Evans, said she would forever miss the boy she brought up but that she was glad the man he became was dead and "burning in hell". She found out that he had been killed after a picture of his body was circulated on social media.


"Imagine discovering the death of your child on Twitter and being both devastated and relieved," Mrs Evans said. "Devastated because the child you brought into this world was killed after being brainwashed into pursuing a murderous cause, but relieved because the death of your child meant he could no longer harm innocent people."

Mrs Evans, 57, a former teaching assistant, remembers her son as a little boy full of "cute mischief" who made mud pies in the back garden and won a WH Smith drawing competition aged 10 with a Harry Potter illustration.

He spoke of wanting to become an electrical engineer with the Royal Marines so he could serve his country.

She believes he became radicalised after splitting from his girlfriend and forming a friendship with a group of Muslim men at his local gym. He changed his name, grew a beard and lost his engineering apprenticeship after repeatedly expressing extremist views at work.

In 2011 he went to Egypt, telling his mother he was going to study Arabic, but the following year he phoned to say he was in Somalia and had joined al-Shabaab. On Christmas Eve 2012, he announced he had married a girl of 13 or 14. In subsequent calls, Evans praised the terrorist attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, and told his mother he was preparing for "martyrdom".

He was killed four months ago during a raid on a Kenyan military base. The documentary is to appear on Oct 22.