TERRORISM

London killer's final hours

Kevin Schofield witnessed stabbing from Parliament press gallery window

 

Westminster terrorist Khalid Masood told staff at a budget hotel: “I’m off to London today” — just hours before his horror attack.

The 52-year-old, holed up near Brighton ahead of Wednesday’s carnage, said the ­cap­ital “isn’t like it used to be”, workers said.

Masood’s comments emerged as a 75-year-old man became the fourth victim to die following the car and knife atrocity.

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Cops swooped on the hotel after it was identified from a receipt found in the beast’s Hyundai motor.

He used the vehicle to mow down dozens of people on Westminster Bridge be­fore he knifed a hero cop to death and was then himself fatally shot by an officer at Parliament.

Jihadi Khalid Masood spent his final night at the budget hotel before killing four people in Westminster.

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Masood put the finishing touches to his deadly plot in room 228 at the £59-a-night Preston Park Hotel in Brighton.

He shovelled down his last meal of a takeaway kebab on Tuesday night before checking out of his room on Wednesday morning.

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He then drove to London where he ploughed into pedestrians, killing three, and stabbed hero cop PC Keith Palmer to death.

The Sun watched as anti-terror detectives swooped on the room on Wednesday night after finding his hotel bill in the hired Hyundai he used as his battering ram.

Forensic officers swept the first-floor room for Masood’s fingerprints and DNA, stripping his sheets and taking the kettle.

They even prised the wall-mounted trouser press and toilet roll holder from the walls, as well as removing the telephone.

Yesterday police IT experts were trying to discover which websites Masood had visited during his stays or if he contacted accomplices through the hotel’s wifi.

Detectives also seized CCTV as it emerged Masood used his real name, ID and credit card to check in.

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A source said he had coolly chatted to staff and guests hours before setting off, telling them he was “off to London today”.

It is thought Masood had spent a number of days over the last week at the hotel.

A source told The Sun: “No one knows why he came. He used a credit card with the name Masood to check in on Tuesday at 11.30am.

“Police traced him to the hotel because he got a receipt and left it in the car. It was definitely the car he used in the attack because that was parked in the car park when he stayed here. It was a hire car.

“He was very English but mixed race with a big beard.

“He said he lived above a guitar shop in Birmingham but he’s not originally from the Midlands and had a London accent. But he said London wasn’t like what it used to be. Police told us later it was definitely the Westminster attacker.”

The Sun can reveal Masood stayed at Preston Park on Friday night, checking out the next morning, and then on Tuesday night after asking for a cheap room.

A source said: “On both occasions he was asking for a cheaper rate. You would have thought if you were hellbent on committing a terror attack you’d chuck it all on a credit card and forget the cost.”

Staff liked him so much they even wrote “nice man” on his computer booking.

Police are trying to trace his whereabouts between the two stays but he apparently said he had stayed in “London and Gatwick”.

The source added: “He said he’d been in London the night before and possibly Gatwick then Brighton on the Tuesday night and going off back to London.”

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Witnesses said he appeared “nice, polite and calm” and gushed about his Muslim wife.

He told staff he was worried about his parents who lived in Wales.

He told them he was sad his dad was suffering from cancer and his mum was struggling to cope at the family home.

He also bragged they had bought the house for £10,000 and that it was now worth £500,000.

After checking out on Wednesday, a cleaner found him back in his room dressed in his underwear.

A source said: “He’d taken two bags to his car and checked out.

“But when the cleaner came back he was apparently back in his room wearing just his underwear. They were all shocked because they thought he had left.

“Everyone says he was nice and polite and acted totally normal.”

Cops began searching the room on Wednesday evening and left clutching bags containing bedsheets and several boxes of evidence.

They closed the hotel’s 24-hour bar and restaurant to launch the investigation and took photos of the foyer and reception.

They searched the grounds and bins and left the hotel at 3.30am.

Detectives returned yesterday at 10.15am to take statements from staff. They took a Russian interpreter to help question a maid who dealt with the killer but does not speak English.

Cleaners yesterday left the door open to room 228, revealing a double bed, desk with Goodmans TV, wardrobe and mirror and en-suite toilet with shower.

Our photos show the kettle, telephone, toilet roll holder and trouser press had been removed.
The scruffy room faces the busy road and hotel car park.

A sign outside advertises rooms for as little as £40 a night.

Preston Park Hotel is 50 miles from Westminster and it is unclear what he was doing there — but sources say he left the hotel on Tuesday evening for several hours.

The hotel is an easy drive to the A23 and on to Gatwick and London.

It is ranked 41 out of 44 Brighton hotels by online travel bible TripAdvisor.

Only a handful of guests were booked at the hotel this week, which has poor reviews and a rating of just 2.5 out of five on the site.

One guest’s review read: “Stayed for one night only, very tired looking hotel in need of refurbishment.”

Another unhappy guest gave it one star out of five and said: “On my second night my vehicle was robbed on site of about £450 worth of my possessions.

“Hotel not sympathetic, reluctant initially to call police. Turns out there was no CCTV.”

Another added: “Television didn’t work, hair drier didn’t work and kettle didn’t work along with the socket which was not good.”

One said: “This hotel is a joke. Fittings falling off walls, taps and showers not working. Wall tiles ripped or missing.” Another complained: “Shower grubby, dusty floor, dribble of water, poor excuse for a shower.”

And one said: “I stay in hotels most weeks and this has to be one of the worst I have stayed in.”

This story first appeared in The Sun.