A “total loner” who tried to kill as many Muslims “as possible” by driving into worshippers near a mosque became “brainwashed” after watching a television drama about the Rochdale grooming sex scandal, a court has heard.
Darren Osborne, of Glyn Rhosyn in Cardiff, deliberately mowed down Makram Ali, 51, and nine other people on a crowded pavement in north London shortly after 12.15am on 19 June last year, prosecutors said.
The 48-year-old had become obsessed with Muslims in the weeks before the attack after watching BBC programme Three Girls, based on testimony from victims of the Rochdale grooming gangs, the jury at Woolwich Crown Court was told.
Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC said the “act of extreme violence” was considered by the prosecution to be a terrorist attack.
Osborne, who is said to have accused all Muslims of being rapists and belonging to paedophile gangs, was described by his partner as a “total loner” who would binge drink to “get blotto and forget everything”.
Describing Osborne's response to watching the BBC drama, his partner of 20 years Sarah Andrews said in a statement read to the court: “He seemed brainwashed and totally obsessed with the subject.
“He has been openly saying a lot of racist things and tarring all Muslims with the same brush.”
“I think he was a ticking time bomb. I should have realised what was going on and I feel so bad that I did not see it, so that I could have done something to stop it,” she said.
She added that one of their daughters had been “too scared” to bring her Muslim friends home because of the way he was acting.
Opening the trial on Monday, Mr Rees said Osborne “was trying to kill as many of the group as possible” as he drove a van into worshippers who had attended Ramadan night prayers near two mosques.
Mr Ali died following the attack and many others were left injured, some seriously, the court heard.
Bystanders had rushed to the aid of Mr Ali moments earlier after he collapsed, but witnesses said he was conscious before being struck, the court heard.
Osborne denies the the murder of Mr Ali and attempted murder of “persons at the junction of Seven Sisters Road and Whadcoat Street, London”.
A handwritten note - which complained about terrorists on the streets and the Rotherham child exploitation scandal, and branded Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn a “terrorist sympathiser” - was found in the cab of the van after the attack, Mr Rees said.
The letter, which also attacked London mayor Sadiq Khan as a “disgrace”, read: “This is happening up and down our green and pleasant land. Feral inbred, raping Muslim men, hunting in packs, preying on our children.
“Get back to the desert you raping inbred bastards and climb back onto your camels.”
Mr Rees told the jury: “The underlying theme seems to be that the defendant felt that insufficient was being said or done to counter terrorism and the grooming gangs comprising predominantly Muslim males.
“Against that background, the defendant decided to take matters into his own hands.”
Mr Ali's family were in court as CCTV footage was played to the jury, showing him collapsing shortly before a van drives in the group who had flocked to his aid.
A white van is seen turning sharply off the road, mounting the curb and ploughing into the group of people some of whom later spill on to the adjacent bus lane as they attempt to pin down the driver.
The defendant had driven from Cardiff to London the previous day, originally intending to drive the van into people taking part in the Al Quds Day march, but began looking for another target when this did not prove viable, the court heard.
A number of men tried to prevent the driver's escape and keep him pinned to the ground as he was heard to say, “I want to kill more Muslims”, Mr Rees said.
Another man in the group remembered the defendant - who was “constantly smiling” - saying: “I've done my job, you can kill me now”, he said.
The trial continues on Tuesday at 10.30am.