West Midlands Terror Group Have Appeal Dismissed
2 November 2018, 14:35 | Updated: 2 November 2018, 14:36
Four men from the West Midlands who plotted a "Lee Rigby-style" terror attack have failed in a Court of Appeal bid to have their convictions overturned.
Naweed Ali, Mohibur Rahman and Khobaib Hussain, who dubbed themselves the Three Musketeers before recruiting their fourth member, Tahir Aziz, had prepared to strike police and military targets on British soil.
The West Midlands-based gang, who sought out radical preacher Anjem Choudary, were found guilty at the Old Bailey of preparing terrorist acts.
The four challenged their convictions at a hearing in October, arguing their four-month trial was "unfair" because it was allowed to continue amid four separate UK terror attacks.
However, their case was rejected by three senior judges on Friday, who said there was no basis for arguing the crown court judge was wrong to carry on with the trial.
The men were arrested in August 2016 after MI5 went to bug Ali's car and discovered a bag containing a "terrorist kit", including a partially-complete pipe bomb and a meat cleaver.
They maintained their innocence throughout their trial, claiming the incriminating evidence was planted by an undercover police officer known as Vincent, the boss of a fake firm called Hero Couriers which had been set up to carry out surveillance.
They were all convicted at the Old Bailey in August last year and jailed for life.
Ali, 30, and Hussain, 25, both of Evelyn Road, Sparkhill, Birmingham, and Rahman, 34, of High Lane, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, were each given minimum terms of 20 years.
Aziz, 39, of Wulstan Road, Cobridge, Stoke-on-Trent, was jailed for at least 15 years for his lesser role.
Lawyers for the four argued the trial should have been postponed following major incidents in Westminster, London Bridge, Manchester and Finsbury Park.
They also said it was "at least arguable" the trial jury was "tainted" after one juror - who was discharged - asked if a detective involved in the case was single on behalf of another juror.
The men's legal teams further argued that they should have been given more information about Vincent and said Mr Justice Globe's summing-up of the case was "biased" in relation to the undercover officer.
But, rejecting all the grounds of appeal, Mr Justice Holroyde said there was no prejudice caused to any of the defendants during the trial.
Sitting with Mr Justice King and Judge Keith Cutler, he said: "We have considered whether anything put before us casts doubt on the safety of the convictions.
"We are satisfied that there is nothing which does so.
"The jury by their verdicts plainly rejected the allegation that evidence was planted.
"We have considered whether anything put before us casts doubt on the safety of the convictions. We are satisfied that there is nothing which does so.
"The jury by their verdicts plainly rejected the allegation that evidence had been planted.
"Having done so, there was ample circumstantial evidence against each of the accused to support the convictions."