A knifeman has admitted stabbing a 70-year-old Muslim prayer leader in the neck at one of Britain’s biggest mosques.
Daniel Horton, 30, slashed muezzin Raafat Maglad at London Central Mosque in front of horrified worshippers on February 20.
The witnesses rushed to pin down the attacker while Mr Maglad received first aid and an ambulance was called to the scene in Regent’s Park, northwest London.
The brave dad-of-three, who leads the call to prayer five times a day, returned to the mosque less than 24 hours after the attack following hospital treatment for a 1.5cm knife wound.
Mr Maglad was a prayer caller at the funeral of Dodi Fayed, who was killed with Diana, Princess of Wales, in the 1997 Paris car crash.
Horton, of no fixed address, had attended the mosque over a number of years and was known to Mr Maglad who recognised his face but not by name as someone who often attends the mosque to pray.
He appeared at Southwark Crown Court on Monday via prison video-link and admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and possessing a kitchen knife.
Judge Deborah Taylor ordered a pre-sentence report and told Horton: ‘I am adjourning your case until November 16 and you are remanded in custody until that time.’
Sam Blom-Cooper, defending, has send that Horton’s mental health has been suffering since he has been held in custody at Wandsworth Prison.
Horton was remanded in custody ahead of sentencing.
When Horton was arrested he told officers: “This is not a religious attack and is not a racist attack”, police said.
He also told a dedicated detention officer: “I don’t need a solicitor, I’m going to admit it” and when that was put to him during his interview he said “I did this”.
However throughout the rest of the interview he nodded and said no comment to questions he was asked.
When he was shown a photograph of Mr Maqlad’s injuries he smiled, police said.
Horton also told a custody sergeant: “I had no intention of killing him. By the way I was standing I could easily have killed him, but I had no intention of that. This was to send a message to him and the other associated with him.”
Detective Constable Daniel Jones, investigating officer, said: “This was a shocking and brutal unprovoked attack in a place of worship where the victim should’ve been safe. Horton had the audacity to smile when he was shown images of his victim’s injuries, not showing any remorse for his heinous actions.
“I’m therefore pleased that Horton has pleaded guilty and finally taken responsibility for his wicked actions.
“I’d like to thank the worshippers who heroically detained Horton on that day, which possibly prevented him from causing further harm. I’d also like to thank the victim for his courage and cooperation throughout the investigation.
“We may never know why Horton chose to viciously attack his victim, but there is never an acceptable excuse or reason for the use of violence.”
Mr Maqlad has said he felt sorry for his attacker following the stabbing.
He said at the time: “I forgive him. I feel very sorry for him.”
He added that as a Muslim he does not hold any hatred in his heart.
“What is done is done, he is not going to return,” he said.