A KNIFEMAN who stabbed three people during a planned attack at Victoria Train Station in Manchester on New Year’s Eve has been jailed for life.

At Manchester Crown Court Mahdi Mohamud, aged 26 and previously of the Cheetham Hill area, was sentenced to life with a minimum of 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of attempted murder and one count of possessing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

On December 31 last year Mohamud followed a couple across the platform at the train station before striking a 56-year-old man multiple times leaving him with a collapsed lung and skull fracture.

He then slashed a 57-year-old woman across the face leaving her with a 10 inch facial wound before stabbing her multiple times. She also suffered a collapsed lung.

Officers from British Transport Police and the Metrolink arrived at the scene within seconds and attempted to detain Mohamud. A Taser was deployed and whilst arresting him, 31-year-old Police Sergeant Lee Valentine was stabbed in the shoulder.

Before Mohamud was transferred to police custody, officers searched him and found a larger knife stashed in his coat pocket.

During interviews, Mohamud stayed silent when detectives presented him with key material that had been found on his electronic devices.

Detective Superintendent Will Chatterton, head of investigations for Counter Terrorism Policing North West, said: “This was a terrifying attack on one of the busiest days of the year and I know it will stay with the victims for the rest of their lives. I hope that they’re able to move forwards with their lives following today’s result.

“It doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened had Mohamud used the larger knife that he was carrying in his coat pocket. The consequences could easily have been even worse.

“Mohamud’s violent actions continued throughout the evening as he continued to shout extremist comments and lashed out at officers as they attempted to escort him from the police van and into custody. They were forced to use leg restraints on him and he refused to cooperate during all of his interviews.

“Whilst in police custody, Mohamud was detained under the mental health act and we have worked closely with medical specialists throughout the year. Following mental health assessments, he was deemed fit to stand trial for his actions.

“I’d like to thank the officers who were on the scene in a matter of seconds, bravely trying to detain Mohamud. I have no doubt that their quick actions prevented more people from coming to harm.”

Transport for Greater Manchester’s Head of Metrolink, Danny Vaughan, said: “I would like to pay tribute to the bravery and swift action of the two Metrolink TravelSafe Officers who initially helped to detain Mahdi Mohamud and ensure that this shocking incident was unable to escalate further.

“Thankfully, incidents like this are extremely rare.

Officers who were first on the scene and bravely tackled knifeman Mahdi Mohamud have been speaking about their roles.

PC Ashley Williams, aged 27, from Bury, was first on the scene along with 28-year-old fellow PC Marsha Selby and two Metrolink tram staff, closely followed by 27-year-old PC Tom Wright, from Rossendale and Sgt Lee Valentine, aged 31.

Sgt Valentine was stabbed by Mohamud after the officer's Taser proved ineffective.

PC Williams told how they were first alerted to a problem at Victoria station.

"Me and Marsha were patrolling the station, Lee and Tom were stood by the barriers," she said

"We were walking along in front of the shops where WH Smiths is, heard a scream, looked onto the Metrolink platforms and we thought there was a fight going on so kind of started running over towards it.

"As we got closer, that's when we saw the knife and realised it wasn't a fight, it was a little bit more serious than that.

"The suspect stabbing the other two people."

Neither PC Williams or PC Slby had Tasers and so, as PC Williams radioed for help, PC Selby used pepper spray on Mohamud, without any effect.

Two Metrolink staff, PC Wright and Sgt Valentine quickly arrived after hearing a scream.

I think we all heard the same scream. It was just like a scream I had never heard before, it was literally like someone was being killed, said Sgt Valentine.

"As we got to where the Metrolink tracks are there are a set of stairs that lead up to the concourse. Probably when I reach there is when I have clocked this knife.

"So knowing these three didn't have a Taser I got my Taser out straight away.

"You could just see him dancing around, waving this knife around, stepping towards us as if I'm going to sort of come towards you.

"I think I've shouted twice for him to drop the knife, because at that point I didn't know he had injured anybody, I couldn't see anybody injured. I didn't see the victims."

But Mohamud's coat was so thick that the Taser did not work and, before the sergeant had a chance to reload it, Mohamud started running towards im.

"He probably closed a seven foot gap in half a second," said Sgt Valentine.

"It was just like a dive, he flew, he probably jumped three or four foot off the ground and just sort of lunged, probably lunged at my head with his knife."

The sergeant grabbed Mohamud in a bear hug and landed on top of him as the knifeman stabbed him in the shoulder.

After his arrest police found Mohamud had two knives on him and a document titled Deadly Ways to Strike With a Knife.

PCs Wright and Williams said it was their training which helped them deal with the situation.

PC Wright said: "It sounds like a cliche but I think your training just takes you over. I don't remember that few seconds. You do stuff without thinking."

PC Williams added: "I think you just automatically do it and realise after that, that's kind of everything you get taught to do."

The officers told how, during the attack, Mohamud was shouting, screaming and sweating.

"The look on his face, not even that of like a madmen just somebody who was just like intent on, he just wasn't there," said Sgt Valentine.

"It was just like an animal."

"He was just so fixated on what he was doing," said PC Wright.

PC Williams added: "Pouring with sweat wasn't he? I don't think he blinked, his eyes were wide open."

PC Wright was the first to notice that his colleague had been stabbed. "It was horrible, " he said, adding that, if he had not been stopped, the knifeman would probably have carried on into the busy city.