Temple attacker guilty of attempted murder


A Leicester man has been convicted of attempted murder for an attack on a faith leader in a Leicester temple, an attack described by Senior District Crown Prosecutor Lawrence English as 'a vicious assassination attempt'.

Harjit Singh Toor targeted Sirisat Guru Uday Singh, the world leader of the Namdhari Sikh faith at the temple on Leicester's Linden Street, attacking him with an axe as he led morning prayers during a visit to the UK in August 2013.

The prosecution's case was that he carried out the attack motivated by hostility towards the victim's faith. Toor offered a guilty plea to causing grievous bodily harm with intent, but the Crown Prosecution Service maintained that this was an attempt to kill and should be tried as such.

He was convicted today at Birmingham Crown Court following a retrial and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Lawrence English said: "This was a vicious assassination attempt on a defenceless man during a religious ceremony in front of a full congregation. The victim was seriously injured in the attack and people who witnessed these shocking events had come to the temple to pray with the victim, but were left terrified and upset. To plan and execute an attack like this in a place of worship is simply abhorrent.

"Harjit Singh Toor went to considerable lengths to plan his attack and ensure he was not detected and thwarted in his attempt. He purchased the axe, carefully concealed it and went to the temple with the intent to kill.

"I would like to thank everyone who has come to court to ensure that Toor has been convicted for the full extent of his crime, in particular the victim, who has travelled back from India to give evidence and acted with dignity and courage throughout proceedings."

Detective Inspector Martin Smalley of Leicestershire Police said: "This incident was witnessed by a large congregation taking part in their early morning prayers.

"Horrified women and children fled as fellow worshippers disarmed Toor, apprehending him until officers arrived at the Gurdwara shortly afterwards.

"The victim, although injured, showed deep concern for the defendant and asked for calm from the congregation.

"Those who witnessed the attack were left extremely traumatised by what they saw and we commend their bravery and willingness to assist us during our enquiries.

"We hope that today's verdict will bring some closure to the victim and those who were present at the Gurdwara that day and reassure the community that justice has been done today."