Iraqi man “threatened to kill staff at Yorkshire MP’s office”

Paula Sherriff, MP for Dewsbury
Paula Sherriff, MP for Dewsbury

Staff at a Yorkshire MP’s office described to a jury how an Iraqi man threatened to kill them and shoot students at a college if he did not get a passport.

Julie Ward, a case worker in the office of Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff, told Leeds Crown Court she was alone talking to Jasem Saeed on March 9 when he became aggressive and was shouting.

MP Paula Sherriff

MP Paula Sherriff

She said she tried to calm him down and understood he wanted a passport to go back to Iraq to see his family. He got some papers from his pocket and threw them down.

“He said if I didn’t give him his passport he would shoot me. This is when alarm bells started ringing for me.” She said: “I couldn’t see a gun but wasn’t to know he did not have one.”

She went and told her office manager Saeed was being aggressive and asked for someone else to come in with her. The office manager warned Saeed to calm down or he would be asked to leave.

Mrs Ward said another case worker George Flesher then returned with her to continue the meeting. She said Saeed continued shouting and being aggressive “and started to threaten George and said he would shoot him.”

He said if I didn’t give him his passport he would shoot me. This is when alarm bells started ringing for me.

Julie Ward

She said: “He mentioned some type of rifle that he would go away and get, a rifle that had 30 rounds and he would go to a local college and shoot 29 students and then shoot himself.

“Although he had threatened us that was my main concern, if he did not get what he wanted, which I knew I couldn’t give him, that he would actually go into the community and do what he said he would do.”

She said they managed to usher him out and lock the door. She then rang the Home Office and the police. Under cross-examination by Philip Boyd, defending Saeed, she denied she had misunderstood about the college and shooting.

Saeed claimed to police and in evidence that he had talked of shooting ISIS recruits at a college in Mosul if he could get back to Iraq. He denied threatening to kill staff at the MP’s office and said he was angry and speaking quickly and they had not heard him properly.

Mr Flesher told the jury he was scared by Saeed’s behaviour. He accepted under cross-examination that he could not remember where the reference to shooting 29 people would happen but said Saeed had not mentioned Mosul.

He accepted he had not mentioned a direct threat to kill himself or Mrs Ward in his statement to the police but said he had made it plain about his behaviour.

The jury heard Saeed was born in Iraq but has lived in the UK for 14 years after he was granted “indefinite leave to remain.”

He was refused a travel document in April last year and in January this year applied for “no time limit” status which would allow him to leave but return, something his current status does not allow and he does not have a valid passport.

Nick Adlington, prosecuting, told the jury Saeed went to the office of Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff in Wellington Road, Dewsbury, between 11.15am and 11.30am on March 9.

He followed two women into the building, they were meeting with office manager Karen Rowling and was asked to wait in reception.

Saeed, 39 of Nelson St, Dewsbury has admitted affray but denies two charges of making threats to kill Mrs Ward and Mr Flesher.

He told police his English was not good and they had misunderstood what he was saying. He claimed he never said he would shoot either of them.

He said he had a difficult upbringing, being raised in a war-torn country, and had seen a number of atrocities which had affected his mental state and he suffered from depression.

He came to the UK and sought asylum, the court heard, and obtained indefinite leave to remain in the UK until 2025 but had been trying to obtain travel documents to allow him to visit home.

When living in Leeds he had seen his local MP and was told it would be resolved but nothing had happened. On March 9, after seeing his GP and been given two months medication for depression and a sick note because he was now living in Dewsbury, he decided to speak to that MP.

He said he told the staff he wanted to travel home to see his family and fight for his country against ISIS who were damaging Iraq. He said he would go to Mosul where there was a college that trained ISIS and kill 29 people there and then use the 30th on himself.

Saeed admitted he got angry but said he was talking about killing ISIS in his own country and had not said he would go to the “nearest college” and kill 29 people.

He said when angry he talked faster and even Kurdish people struggled to understand him. He accepted if he had been calmer the situation would not have arisen and that the staff may have been frightened but said they were there to help people and should have had “bigger hearts.”

He told the jury in evidence he planned to kill ISIS recruits in Iraq. “That’s what I tried to explain to the lady, that is my intention.”

He agreed he got angry with Mrs Ward. “I was desperate, I can’t go anywhere without a passport.” But he denied threatening to kill either her or the man. “I swear to God.”

“You wanted them to be in such fear they would help you because you didn’t think they were trying enough,” said Mr Adlington.

“I am not a child to behave like a child” said Saeed who added: “That is your interpretation of this incident, not mine.”

The trial continues.

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