Woman who practised knife fights with terror plot brother spared jail again

Telegraph reporters
·3 min read
Sneha Chowdhury has walked free from court for a second time after senior judges decided her suspended sentence was not unduly lenient. -  BEN STANSALL/AFP
Sneha Chowdhury has walked free from court for a second time after senior judges decided her suspended sentence was not unduly lenient. - BEN STANSALL/AFP

A woman who practised knife fights with her jihadist brother as he plotted a terrorist attack in London has walked free from court for a second time after senior judges decided her suspended sentence was not unduly lenient.

Former Uber driver Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, 29, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years in July after planning a gun, knife and van massacre in the capital.

He was arrested last year after unwittingly revealing to undercover police officers his plans to target popular tourist attractions, including Madame Tussauds, the gay Pride parade and an open-top sightseeing bus.

He also bragged about deceiving an Old Bailey jury which cleared him of a sword attack on police outside Buckingham Palace in August 2017.

His sister Sneha Chowdhury, 26, was found guilty of failing to disclose information about acts of terrorism following a trial alongside her brother.

In August, Judge Andrew Lees sentenced her to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, saying that she had acted out of "misguided loyalty" to her brother.

The Attorney General's Office decided to challenge her sentence at the Court of Appeal as being unduly lenient.

But, at a hearing in London on Friday, Lady Justice Macur said Judge Lees was "justified" in finding that Chowdhury's case was "exceptional".

Police interview with former Uber driver Mohiussunnath Chowdhury - Metropolitan Police/PA 
Police interview with former Uber driver Mohiussunnath Chowdhury - Metropolitan Police/PA

The judge, sitting with Mr Justice Knowles and Mr Justice Picken, said: "She was subject to controlling behaviour by male members of her family.

"In those circumstances, it is possible, we consider, that this judge's ultimate sentence cannot be deemed to be unduly lenient."

Lady Justice Macur added that the offence was "serious" and that Sneha Chowdhury had a responsibility to reveal her brother's plans "to prevent what was potentially significant harm, including death, to others".

But she said the sentencing judge correctly took into account "the unique and exceptional home background that had subsisted over many years", including her role in caring for her mother who suffered from "longstanding ill-health".

Sneha Chowdhury sobbed in the public gallery as the decision was announced and hugged her lawyer after she walked free from court.

The siblings' trial at Woolwich Crown Court had heard that Sneha Chowdhury knew her brother was training with wooden swords, known as bokkens, practising knife fighting and rehearsing beheading attacks at the family home in Luton.

Mohiussunnath Chowdhury had returned to the family home in December 2018 after being released from Belmarsh prison when jurors cleared him of slashing police with a sword outside the Queen's London home while shouting "Allahu Akbar".

The Court of Appeal heard he had begun preparations for another terror attack "within days of his release", which was discovered through "covert listening devices" placed in the family home as well as "extensive conversations with undercover officers".

Recorded conversations between the pair revealed he had told Sneha Chowdhury that he had "looked at bare (a lot of) terrorist shit on the internet" and planned on "doing another attack".

Mohiussunnath Chowdhury also told his sister in April 2019 that he needed to train somewhere no one would see him to "practise decapitation techniques", adding: "You can't do it in the garden."

Prosecutors at the pair's trial said that there was no evidence Sneha Chowdhury had extremist views, and that she acted out of "loyalty to her brother rather than a shared ideological position with him".