Finsbury Park mosque terror attack: Victim Makram Ali's family describe trauma of losing 'peaceful' grandfather

Worshippers who rushed to help Mr Ali after he collapsed were targeted by Darren Osborne

Family of Finsbury Park victim Makram Ali address media after Darren Osborne sentencing

Relatives of the man killed by far-right terrorist Darren Osborne have described their agony as he attempted to deny carrying out the attack.

Makram Ali’s daughter was among family members in Woolwich Crown Court for the gruelling nine-day trial, listening to harrowing witness statements and graphic medical accounts of his fatal injuries.

But she said it was “particularly hard” to hear Osborne launch into a bizarre attempt to deny his crimes, claiming that a man called Dave had ploughed the van into Muslim worshippers in Finsbury Park.

Ruzina Akhtar said the family was pleased the jury had dismissed the story to find him guilty of murder and attempted murder.

“Our father, like the victims of most terrorism, was entirely innocent which makes his death in this violent way all the more hurtful and we cannot imagine the trauma he felt in the last few minutes,” she said.

“But we will choose to remember our father with happier thoughts. He will never be forgotten, he will always stay in our hearts, his laughter will echo the walls of our home, his smile will be reflected in our eyes, his memories will be alive in our conversations.”

In a statement delivered on behalf of loved ones outside Woolwich Crown Court, Ms Akhtar said her father spent the evening he died with his family before leaving for Ramadan prayers at the Muslim Welfare House.

Ruzina Akhtar and relatives of Makram Ali speaking outside Woolwich Crown Court

The beloved “family man” lived with his wife nearby and had six children and two grandchildren.

He collapsed just two minutes before the van struck, with the crowd of fellow worshippers who rushed to help him becoming an unwitting target for Osborne as he hunted for a mosque.

The court heard that Mr Ali died almost instantly of “catastrophic” internal injuries caused by being run over, and had not suffered a heart attack or any serious condition causing his fall.

Among the survivors were friends of Mr Ali, who paid tribute to a “quiet and gentle” man who was loved and respected by all those he new.

“He was such a peaceful and simple man, he had no bad thoughts for anyone,” said Ms Akhtar.

“We’d like to thank the witnesses who helped the case, family and friends who attended court and the community for the support we received.”

She previously told the court how she was “struggling not to fall part” under the weight of her grief, with her mother too afraid to go outside and five-year-old son still asking for his grandad.

Justice Cheema-Grubb sentenced Osborne to two concurrent life sentences with a minimum term of 43 years on Friday, attacking his “pathetic last-ditch attempt” to deceive the jury.

“Mr Ali has been described as a sincere and warm person who was always full of laughter and immense love for his family,” she told the murderer

“He lived his life without enemies until, unknowingly, he met you.”

The judge said the victims injured by Mr Osborne included men and women of all ages, a group of deaf people and a man who was knocked out of his wheelchair.

“Many speak of the fear they feel for themselves and their children of being attacked in the streets simply because they are visibly Muslims,” she added.

“The medical and emotional impact of your actions have had a severe and lasting effect on those you hit.”

One man who was left trapped under Osborne’s van suffered life-changing injuries and appeared in court on crutches, while others described recurring flashbacks, nightmares and trauma leaving them unable to sleep and in constant fear.

Sharif Xamza, who was struck from behind as he was kneeling next to Mr Ali giving him first aid, said “it was human to try to help another human – and then you too become a victim of attack”.

Lawyers representing 18 of the victims of the attack in ongoing civil claims said some had lost jobs because of the physical and mental toll.

Grandfather Makram Ali died of ‘catastrophic’ injuries caused by Osborne running him over

“This trial has been a horrendous ordeal for all those affected by the attack last June, particularly those called to give evidence in court, who had to come face to face with Osborne,” said Dushal Mehta, a lawyer at Fieldfisher.

“This is a proud, committed community who have joined together around the injured to support them in every way possible. They are reluctant to ask for outside help.

“We continue to work with the insurers of the van used as a weapon by Osborne to provide vital medical rehabilitation.”

Khalid Oumar, a trustee of the Finsbury Park Mosque and founder of a victims’ forum, praised the strength and courage of those who gave evidence.

“The scars will stay with them forever, but the community is determined to go about daily life without fear and to stand together against victimisation and violence,” he added.

Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, welcomed the 43-year minimum sentence handed to Osborne.

”His evil and cowardly attack meant a family has tragically lost a husband, father and grandfather,” he added, saying some of the 12 other injured victims have still not fully recovered and could suffer from health issues for the rest of their lives.

“I would like to pay tribute to Mr Ali’s family and the local community in Finsbury Park, for their tremendous support and understanding with our investigation during what must have been an extremely difficult time for them.”

The Home Secretary said the Government would soon be publishing a new counter-terrorism strategy setting out its approach to tackling anyone who seeks to attack Britain, its values and way o life.

Amber Rudd said: ”Nothing will make up for the death of Mr Ali but this conviction and long sentence will hopefully come as some solace to his family and those injured as a result of Osborne’s horrific terrorist attack at Finsbury Park.

“This Government will continue to be unwavering in our resolve to combat all forms of terrorism, whatever the underlying motivation.”

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