'Troubled' Westminster killer was ' laughing, joking and polite' hours before attack

'Troubled' Westminster killer was ' laughing, joking and polite' hours before attack
Emergency services removing the wounded Westminster terrorist on Wednesday. Pic: PA

    Friday's Westminster attack updates:

  • The fourth member of the public killed in the attack was named as Leslie Rhodes.
  • Scotland Yard’s top anti-terror officer Mark Rowley revealed that the killer’s birth name was Adrian Russell Ajao.
  • Two more “significant arrests” have been made in connection with the attack.
  • Two people remain in hospital in a critical condition, one with life-threatening injuries.
  • Two police officers injured in the attack are also in hospital with “significant injuries”.

Update 12.05pm: The Westminster terrorist was laughing and joking in Brighton hours before carrying out the deadly attack, a hotel manager said.

Preston Park Hotel manager Sabeur Toumi said Khalid Masood was just like any other guest as they spent 5-10 minutes talking about his background and what he was doing in Brighton.

Speaking to Sky News in the room Masood stayed in, Mr Toumi said: "He was very friendly, laughing and joking, telling us stories about where he lived.

"He paid for his room and he went up very peacefully, and we haven't seen him after that."

It was only when pictures of the attacker emerged from the scene that staff became suspicious, he said.

Mr Toumi went on: "It is very shocking because these guys - you don't know who is the bad ones and the good ones, so he stayed with us twice, he was a normal guest, friendly - we never thought anything of him.

"He was just like any other guest who checks in to the hotel."

Police have removed multiple items from the room he slept in on Tuesday and the previous Friday, including a trouser press and toilet roll holder.

Businessman Michael Petersen found himself next to Masood at the reception desk, and recalled he was smiling and came across as polite.

He said there was nothing about the attacker that would have suggested he was "on his way to do something quite atrocious".

Mr Petersen told Sky News: "I notice a very polite demeanour from the killer, and there is nothing in his conduct that would make me have any suspicious thoughts towards him.

"I remember he was roughly my height, very white teeth, smiling, articulate, polite. But all I saw of him would have been about 10-15 seconds."

Asked about how he feels having been standing next to the attacker, he said: "The shocking realisation that you can stand next to somebody that is totally, perfectly normal - articulate, polite, presentable - and the guy's on his way to commit mass murder."

Earlier: The wife of a man attacked with a knife by Khalid Masood in a pub assault has told how he was injured after defending someone during a row.

Masood was jailed for two years over the 2000 attack in the car park of the Crown and Thistle in Northiam, near Rye in East Sussex, according to a news report at the time.

The Brighton Argus reported that Masood, who stood trial as Adrian Elms, "left Piers Mott with a three-inch gash on his left cheek" requiring 20 stitches after an altercation with "racial overtones" on Sunday July 16.

The scene shortly after the Westminster attack on Wednesday
The scene shortly after the Westminster attack on Wednesday

Mr Mott has since died, but speaking on Friday in the village his widow Heather Mott told the Press Association: "My husband was defending someone who was working for him.

"I don't know how it happened. Piers was just defending this guy."

The Brighton Argus report of the case at Hove Crown Court said Masood, named Elms at the time, was jailed after admitting charges of unlawful wounding and criminal damage.

It told how, after a row inside the pub where Elms had drunk four pints of beer, he went out and damaged Mr Mott's car with the knife, before turning on the vehicle's owner after he came outside.

Elms used a knife he had been using while decorating his daughter's room at the family home, the report said.

Adrian Baker, 51, who has lived in Northiam for 25 years, told the Press Association on Friday that Elms was known as a "troubled" character.

He said: "I'm gobsmacked. He didn't appear to be very religious. He would go into the local pubs.

"I do remember a fracas involving a guy called Piers Mott. This was a long time ago. I remember Elms being a bit of a troubled character, which is probably the best way to describe him.

"He got into a bit of trouble. Piers was a really nice guy, an older chap who didn't deserve to get stabbed.

"I wasn't in the pub at the time but heard about it. Adrian Elms didn't have a very good reputation."

The Brighton Argus report quoted defence barrister Alexander Taylor-Camara as saying: "When the defendant moved to the area it was to try and give his family and himself a better and more tranquil way of life.

"He particularly chose an area such as this village because of the lifestyle and people there."

PA

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