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Homeless man jailed for stabbing prayer leader at London mosque

Investigating officer says the assailant didn’t show remorse and ‘had the audacity to smile’ when shown images of the victim’s injuries

The scene outside London Central Mosque in Regent's Park, where police have arrested a man on suspicion of attempted murder, in London, February 20, 2020 (Marc Ward/PA via AP)
The scene outside London Central Mosque in Regent's Park, where police have arrested a man on suspicion of attempted murder, in London, February 20, 2020 (Marc Ward/PA via AP)

LONDON — A homeless man was jailed for more than seven years on Monday after he attacked a prayer leader at a London mosque with a knife.

Daniel Horton, 30, attacked Raafat Maglad, a 70-year-old muezzin, who makes the call to prayer at London Central Mosque, on the edge of Regent’s Park, in February.

He pleaded guilty to one count of grievous bodily harm and possession of a bladed article at a previous hearing.

At the time, witnesses described how Horton had quietly prayed behind Maglad before stabbing him, leaving him with injuries including a 1.5-centimeter gash to his neck.

Maglad returned to his duties 24 hours later but prosecutor Benn Maguire told judge Deborah Taylor at Southwark Crown Court the attack had had a lasting effect.

He was “less confident about standing in front of the prayer hall while the congregation is standing behind him, as he is scared about being attacked,” the lawyer said.

The prayer leader also suffered nerve damage, had experienced trouble sleeping and his voice had been “adversely affected,” he told the court.

Raafat Maglad arrives at the London Central Mosque after being released from the hospital, February 21, 2020. (Kirsty O’Connor/PA via AP)

In a statement, London’s Metropolitan Police said the prayer leader had been helped out of the mosque by worshippers who had rushed to his aid.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Daniel Jones called the attack ” brutal” and “unprovoked,” and the sentence “highlights the callousness of this attack on an unsuspecting victim.”

“Horton had the audacity to smile when he was shown images of his victim’s injuries, not showing any remorse for his heinous actions.”

But his motivation could remain a mystery. Police said Horton divulged in custody that it was not a racist or religiously motivated attack but he had no intention of killing Maglad.

The court also heard the victim and defendant were known to each other, although not by name. Horton, who was homeless at the time, had been attending the mosque for a number of years.

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