An alleged terrorist accused of trying to kill police officers and cyclists outside the Houses of Parliament has told jurors he “panicked” after he got “lost in London”.
Salih Khater, 30, allegedly steered his car at a pedestrian and cyclists before swerving towards two police officers and crashing into a security barrier on August 14 last year.
The prosecution has said that while the defendant’s motive for the attack was unclear, by targeting Westminster, he had a “terrorist motive”.
However, giving evidence at the Old Bailey on Thursday, Khater said he had not intended to kill anyone.
He told jurors he had travelled to London from his home in Birmingham to visit the Sudanese embassy for a visa after failing to get a fast-track passport to visit his sick mother.
He drove around Parliament Square three times in his Ford Fiesta before ploughing into cyclists waiting at a junction outside the Houses of Parliament, the court heard.
“I was just lost. I was just lost in London,” the 30-year-old said..
Replaying CCTV of the alleged attack, defence lawyer Peter Carter QC asked: “Were you waiting for an opportunity to drive your car at cyclists?”
Khater said he was in a state of “confusion and hesitation”, trying to find his way to Tottenham Court Road or shops to get something to eat, not having had a meal since the morning before.
When asked about the reason for the collision, he said: “I remember something made me panic.”
Asked why he failed to stop after crashing into a pedestrian and cyclists, Khater said: “The car was not in my full control at the time.”
Mr Carter said: “The prosecution say that you deliberately drove your car at those police officers.”
Khater replied: “I would say I have tried to find somewhere to stop after the incident at the traffic light.
“I collided with the barrier where two police officers were standing.”
The defendant was asked why he had Googled directions to 10 Downing Street before the crash.
He said: “I did want to find somewhere that I’m familiar with because I’m not familiar with London. I thought Croydon or Westminster or the area where I knew.”
He denied wanting to visit 10 Downing Street or wanting to harm anyone there, claiming he just “wanted to come near central London.”
Kater earlier described himself as an “OK driver”, having been granted asylum and British citizenship in 2010.
The Sudanese-born defendant, of Highgate Street, Birmingham, has denied two counts of attempted murder and two alternative charges of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm.