Aussie reporter ‘terrified’ she'd be stabbed by ‘terrorist’
The man who attacked Nine reporter Sophie Walsh in London while shouting "Allahu Akbar" was an Algerian asylum seeker wanted on criminal charges, a court has heard.
Ms Walsh was doing a live cross in London on protests in Europe in reaction to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis when she was attacked on June 3.
She was grabbed and punched by Soofuue Yakr, 25, who she feared was wearing a suicide vest.
Yakr was carrying a screwdriver but did not use it to attack the reporter.
Southwark Crown Court in London heard that Yakr, who has pleaded guilty to the assault,was already wanted on charges in Newcastle before he was arrested for the June attack.
He did not turn up at Britain's Newcastle Crown Court, where he was due to enter pleas for one count of conspiracy to steal, two counts of theft, and two counts of possession of identity documents with improper intention.
Carol Summers, prosecuting, said Yakr ran up to Ms Walsh and pushed her with both hands.
"He then lunged at her as if he was going to take her down. He started to do a stabbing motion on the left hand side of her stomach although there was a stabbing motion she felt nothing sharp," she said.
"No injuries, but as he was doing this he was shouting Allahu Akbar in a loud voice."
Ms Walsh was able to push him off but was "terrified" she would be stabbed and that he was a "terrorist".
"As she tried to get away from him a cameraman approached with an umbrella and tried to get him off," she said.
"Ms Walsh had been mid-sentence during a live news broadcast to Australia at the time and could be heard screaming. When the attack happened the channel was showing a montage of the protest."
Yakr was described as "very aggressive".
Cameraman Jason Conduit chased down Yakr with his tripod and managed to detain him until police arrived.
Ms Walsh's reaction was captured on screen during her cross to the Adelaide news, but the actual attack was not aired.
The homeless attacker was charged with possession of an offensive weapon, drug possession and assault by beating on Park Lane in central London.
Police were nearby and also gave chase, arresting Yakr and pinning him to the bonnet of a patrol vehicle.
Timothy Banks, defending, told the court: "He applied for asylum in 2012 and has been in the UK since then."
The attack was the most serious of a number of incidents involving Australian television journalists during the protests.
Fellow Nine reporter Ben Avery was attacked during a protest in London, while Seven reporter Amelia Brace and cameraman Tim Myers were assaulted by police at protests in Washington.
The case was adjourned until August 20 at Newcastle Crown Court.
Yakr would be deported if he was sentenced to more than 12 months' jail.
Originally published as Aussie reporter was 'terrified' she would be stabbed by 'terrorist'