Finsbury Park Mosque trial jury told they cannot reach verdict based on defendant's 'repugnant' views

Jurors must decide case on evidence not because they feel 'tragic and unnecessary death of Makram Ali should be marked', says judge

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Thursday 01 February 2018 17:04
Court artist sketch of Darren Osborne in the witness box with defence barrister Lisa Wilding QC
Court artist sketch of Darren Osborne in the witness box with defence barrister Lisa Wilding QC

The jury in the Finsbury Park terror attack trial has been told they cannot reach a verdict based on the defendant’s “repugnant” views.

The eight women and four men have been sent out to consider their decision after hearing nine days of evidence and arguments at Woolwich Crown Court.

Darren Osborne, 48, denies charges of murder and attempted murder over a van attack that left one man dead and nine other victims injured shortly after midnight on 19 June.

The father-of-four told the jury another man, called Dave, was behind the wheel when the vehicle was ploughed into a group of Muslims caring for a man who collapsed after leaving prayers.

The defence dismissed Mr Osborne’s account, which claims an attack intending to target a pro-Palestinian march was planned with a third conspirator called Terry Jones, as “absurd”.

But speaking in Darren Osborne’s defence, a barrister said the jury must be convinced that Mr Osborne was driving the van based “not on speculation, not on guesswork, not on ‘what if’ but on the evidence”.

“You must not decide this case because you feel that the tragic and unnecessary death of Makram Ali should be marked,” Lisa Wilding QC added: “It may be that you find Mr Osborne’s views repugnant, but you will not try this case on those views.”

Summing up the case, the judge said British law “tolerates strongly held and varied views” until they cross over into illegal conduct.

“Every ordinary and decent person hates child abuse and acts of terror, whatever the colour or creed of the perpetrator,” Justice Cheema-Grubb said.

“That sort of feeling is very different to people who hate a whole religion, the former sort of horror is rational and the second is not…there is no defence to the murder of a Muslim on the basis that some Muslims have abused children or carried out terror attacks.”

She told the jury that although the prosecution alleges the attack was an act of terror, a specific terror charge was not brought because it was unnecessary.

“Murder is murder, whether done for terror motives or some other motive,” the judge said, noting that Mr Osborne had stated his aim to kill Muslims and politicians.

Reviewing evidence from two iPhones and an iPad used by Mr Osborne, Justice Cheema-Grubb said his partner believed he became “obsessed” with Muslims after watching a television drama on the Rochdale grooming scandal.

Sarah Andrews, who had four children with the defendant, said he carried out research including ”material put on the internet by Tommy Robinson, the ex-leader of the EDL“.

”Ms Andrews thought he was so heavily influenced by what he had seen there that he became brainwashed,“ the judge says.

”His own daughter tried to reason with him but he was so derogatory about Muslims that she stopped bringing her Muslim schoolfriends home.“ The judge said the case had ”come down to a fairly narrow dispute“ over who was behind the wheel of the van when it hit Muslim worshippers, and what Mr Osborne knew of the plan.

Two contradictory defence statement have been submitted since Friday, she told the court, saying they were contradicted again by the defendant’s cross-examination.

Sending the jury out to consider the verdict, Justice Cheema-Grubb asked: ”Does the evidence demonstrate to your satisfaction that Dave the driver is a figment of the defendant’s imagination, or can it be that Darren Osborne has finally found the courage to tell the truth?“