Finsbury Park terror attacker Darren Osborne jailed for life after driving van into Muslims near mosque

Osborne tells the court 'God bless you all, thank you' after beng sentenced to minimum term of 43 years

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Friday 02 February 2018 13:52 GMT
Darren Osborne, the Finsbury Park attacker is among terrorists inspired by extremist material that fell outside the purview of terror laws
Darren Osborne, the Finsbury Park attacker is among terrorists inspired by extremist material that fell outside the purview of terror laws (Metropolitan Police/Reuters)

Darren Osborne has been jailed for life for trying to “kill, maim, injure and terrify” as many people as possible in the Finsbury Park terror attack.

Justice Cheema-Grubb did not give Osborne a rare full-life term for the “suicide mission” because he did not achieve his original aim to massacre demonstrators at a pro-Palestinian march in north London, she said.

“This was a terror attack,” the judge added, saying police security around the Al-Quds Day rally had “saved many lives”.

“You were rapidly radicalised ... by material put on the internet by those determined to spread hatred of Muslims.”

Sentencing Osborne to two concurrent life sentences with a minimum term of 43 years, minus the 224 days already served in custody, she said his lengthy criminal record betrayed a “belligerent and violent character”.

Justice Cheema-Grubb commended the actions of a police officer and Mohammed Mahmoud, imam of the Muslim Welfare House in Finsbury Park.

He arrived at the scene of the attack to find members of his congregation among the victims, but stopped survivors beating the captured perpetrator.

“His behaviour throws into sharp relief the bile spewed out online from those who aspire to lead the haters,” the judge said.

“He chose to respond to evil with good. His response should be everyone’s response, whether it is to the evil of child grooming and abuse in Rochdale or the evil of terrorist atrocities in our cities.”

Osborne showed no emotion while being sentenced, but as he was led away told the court: “God bless you all, thank you.”

Metropolitan police release 999 call after Finsbury Park attack

A jury had found the 48-year-old guilty of murder and attempted murder at the end of a nine-day trial, dismissing what the judge called a “pathetic last-ditch attempt to deceive them” by claiming a man called Dave was behind the wheel.

Woolwich Crown Court had 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 mosque.

Woolwich Crown Court heard that Osborne has a criminal history spanning 30 years, which could not previously be disclosed because it could prejudice the jury.

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC said he had appeared in court for 33 times for 102 offences dating back to when he was just 15 years old.

He has served multiple prison sentences for crimes including assault and has also been convicted of drug possession, burglary, theft, fraud, vehicle crime and public order offences

Mr Rees said Osborne had eight years where he was “relatively trouble-free” around the birth of his first child, but was later convicted for shoplifting and theft in south Wales.

Lisa Wilding QC, Osborne’s barrister, had urged the judge not to use a whole-life term warranted by his motivations.

“Although this case has been properly characterised as an act of terror, it’s arguably not the most grave of its type,” she told the court.

Ms Wilding highlighted the fact that Osborne was a functioning alcoholic with a troubled past, saying the previous convictions had no racial element and he ”became radicalised in a short period of time“.

Mr Ali’s relatives were in court for the sentencing hearing, where his wife, six children and two grandchildren told how they were unable to fully grieve until the end of the gruelling trial.

His eldest daughter, Ruzina Akhtar, said she had been “struggling not to fall apart” since the attack.

In a statement, she described how the family faced an agonising wait for Mr Ali’s death to be confirmed.

“In our hearts we knew it was him involved and that he was gone,” Ms Akhtar said. “My heart was shattered when I saw my father’s body in the morgue.”

She told how the family live near the scene of the attack and are traumatised from passing it on a daily basis, while her mother fears leaving the house or sleeping alone.

“My mum is scared of going out by herself and being attacked because she is visibly a Muslim and wears a headscarf,” she added.

Makram Ali, 51, was killed in the attack
Makram Ali, 51, was killed in the attack (Metropolitan Police)

Ms Akhtar paid tribute to her father as a “family man”, saying he spent his final moments before leaving the house on the night of his death with his wife and children, who are as young as 13.

He was beloved by her five-year-old son, who “is always asking where his granddad is and why he can’t go to the park with him every day” like they used to.

Ms Akhtar said her father was the most “sincere and warm person” she knew, who lived his life without enemies, adding: “My father will never be forgotten, he will always stay in our hearts, his laughter will echo from the walls in our home and his smile will be reflected in our eyes.”

Statements from the survivors of the attack told how they suffer from physical injuries as well as nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia and other effects of trauma have had a terrible impact on their personal lives and work.

They described chased Osborne down after he crashed the van and stumbled out of the driver’s seat, telling how he smiled and said: “I’ve done my job, you can kill me now.”

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.

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.

Police believe Osborne was radicalised in under a month, sparking calls for internet companies and the security services to combat extremist material even if it does not violate terror laws.

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