Finsbury Park terror attack trial: Jury finds Darren Osborne guilty of murder after van ploughed into Muslims

Jury dismisses father-of-four’s ‘absurd’ claim a man called Dave was driving the van

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Thursday 01 February 2018 16:54
CCTV footage shows moment van swerves towards people on Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park

An unemployed “loner” who set out to murder Muslims after being radicalised online has been convicted of launching the Finsbury Park terror attack.

Darren Osborne concocted a bizarre story claiming a “guy called Dave” jumped into the moving van, rammed it into worshippers leaving nearby mosques and then vanished.

But a jury at Woolwich Crown Court dismissed the father-of-four’s account after under an hour of deliberations, unanimously finding him guilty of murder and attempted murder.

Osborne showed no emotion as the verdicts were read out, putting his hands in his pockets and walking slowly out of the dock flanked by guards.

Justice Cheema-Grubb said she would sentence him on Friday morning, when the attacker faces life imprisonment.

The court heard how Makram Ali, a 51-year-old grandfather, had collapsed just two minutes before the atrocity shortly after midnight on 19 June.

A crowd of Muslim worshippers, several of them wearing traditional clothing, gathered around him to help and became an unwitting target for Osborne as he looped around Finsbury Park in search of a target.

Survivors described how they chased the 48-year-old down after he crashed the van and stumbled out of the driver’s seat.

He fought against those trying to pin him to the ground, then smiled and said: “I’ve done my job, you can kill me now.”

Metropolitan police release 999 call after Finsbury Park attack

Witnesses gave the court harrowing accounts of seeing Mr Ali’s body on the ground and nine other victims “scattered” around him, including one man trapped under the van who was left with life-changing injuries.

A note found in the vehicle – scribbled down in a pub the night before – showed Osborne raging against Muslims, grooming gangs, Jeremy Corbyn, Sadiq Khan and Lily Allen.

Osborne repeated the sentiments in expletive-filled tirades caught on police body-worn camera.

“At least I had a proper go,” he said. “Sadiq Khan, what’s he up to tomorrow, eh?’’

The defendant was filmed admitting he was the driver and told another officer he was “flying solo”.

He denied charges of murder and attempted murder but submitted no statement in his defence until Friday – after hearing five days of evidence proving his guilt.

Osborne’s new story claimed that he mounted the original plan to cause “as much damage as possible” at a pro-Palestinian march in London with two men he met in a Welsh pub.

He told the court that alongside supposed co-conspirators Dave and Terry Jones, he hoped to found a Welsh far-right group called the “Taffia”.

Osborne said he was prepared to die targeting the Al-Quds Day march on 18 June but could not reach the central London rally because of road closures.

Witnesses and CCTV footage showed him driving around the capital asking passers-by for directions for mosques for several hours before he moved towards Finsbury Park.

Osborne claimed he had lost interest in an attack and thought he was going to the pub with Dave and Terry.

He said the former jumped in the moving van, “shimmied” into the driver’s seat and unexpectedly ploughed it into Muslims.

Osborne attempted to explain the fact only one driver was seen by saying he was changing his trousers in the footwell and that Dave “vanished... like [the TV illusionist] Dynamo” as he got out the van.

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC accused him of cobbling together the “absurd” account in a last-ditch attempt to save himself.

“The sad and depressing truth is that he intended to kill as many members of the group as possible,” he told the jury.

“In his mind, the defendant had cast all Muslims as criminals and decided to take matters into his own hands and punish them.”

Mr Rees said the atrocity was inspired by a “hatred of all Muslims that had its roots in the material Osborne had watched on television and viewed online”.

His wife, Sarah Andrews, told the court he was being treated for depression and had considered suicide in the weeks leading up to the attacks.

Darren Osborne had denied murder and attempted murder

She said he had become “brainwashed” after watching a drama on grooming gangs in Rochdale and reading social media posts by far-right leaders including Tommy Robinson and Jayda Fransen.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed that the attack was prosecuted as an act of terrorism.

“Darren Osborne planned and carried out this attack because of his hatred of Muslims,” said Sue Hemming, head of the CPS terrorism division.

“We have been clear throughout that this was a terrorist attack, and he must now face the consequences of his actions.”

Commander Dean Haydon, of the Metropolitan Police, said that if Osborne aimed to create division between communities, he had failed.

“The way that the local community in Finsbury Park – of all faiths and backgrounds – came together was astounding and this reaction was the same across London and the UK,” he added.

“The positive reaction my officers and teams have witnessed since, just further highlights how far from reality Osborne’s sick and twisted views really are.”

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