Mourners left ‘gasping and screaming’ by man grabbing flag from Queen’s coffin, court told | UK News
Mourners were left “gasping and screaming” as they watched a man step from the queue of people waiting to pay their respects to the Queen and grab the flag draped over her coffin, a court has heard.
Muhammad Khan, 28, was tackled by police officers near the coffin and mourners were “clearly anguished” by the scene, London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court has heard.
Khan was sent for treatment at a mental health facility by district judge Louisa Cieciora after she found his actions caused distress to people who witnessed the scene.
Khan, of Limehouse, east London, was charged with an offence under Section 4A of the Public Order Act, which alleges he acted with intent to cause a person or persons unknown harassment, alarm or distress.
The court was told at a previous hearing that doctors had assessed Khan as not fit to take part in proceedings and said he was suffering from delusions.
Khan had left the queue in Westminster Hall on 16 September at around 9.45pm.
Officers saw him approach the coffin and grab hold of the Royal Standard before quickly being detained and arrested.
PC Lynsey McMenemy, together with PC Jordan Godfrey, grappled with Khan and all three fell to the ground.
PC McMenemy said members of the public “gasped” and were “clearly anguished”. He added that he “understood” why the mourners felt that way.
Other officers arrived after being alerted by the “gasping and screaming” mourners, the court heard.
As he was being removed from the scene, Khan told one officer he “wanted to see if she was really dead”, the court heard.
The judge said she was satisfied the distress experienced by the mourners was “as a result of Mr Khan’s actions” and not due to the arrest by the officers.
In approaching the catafalque, Mr Khan’s actions would have been noticed by members of the public “most of whom would have been looking at the coffin and who were there to pay their respects”, the judge said.
She added that they would have seen him grab the Royal Standard and “it is that act that would have prompted the gasps and distress that PC McMenemy heard”.
The judge said she was satisfied, following assessment by two doctors, that Mr Khan was suffering from a mental disorder and should be detained in hospital care where he could be given appropriate treatment.
Rakesh Bhasin, defending, said: “As you have heard, the incident lasted a matter of seconds. The first officer to see Mr Khan saw him and took him to the ground within a matter of seconds.”
He suggested that the other officers who arrived at the scene soon after had heard screams or gasps but this could not clearly have been caused by Mr Khan’s actions as opposed to his arrest.