As it happenedended1517580696

Finsbury Park mosque attack trial - as it happened: Darren Osborne jailed for 43 years minimum for deadly van attack on Muslims

Judge hits out at 'pathetic' attempt to deceive jury with bizarre cover story

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Friday 02 February 2018 10:50
CCTV footage shows moment van swerves towards people on Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park

Darren Osborne has been jailed for life for launching the Finsbury Park terror attack.

A jury found him guilty of murder and attempted murder at the end of a nine-day trial, dismissing his “absurd” claim another man had ploughed the van into a crowd of Muslims and vanished.

Justice Cheema-Grubb explained Osborne had not been charged with a terror offence because it was unnecessary to use specific laws in murder cases, adding: “Murder is murder, whether done for terror motives or some other motive."

She sentenced him to serve two concurrent life sentences with a minimum term of 43 years, telling Osborne the jury had "seen through your pathetic last-ditch attempt to deceive them".

The case was prosecuted as an act of terrorism and, like the killers of Jo Cox and Lee Rigby, Osborne could have his murder sentence lengthened because of his aims.

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Woolwich Crown 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 before being spotted by 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.”

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 – contained Osborne's ranting 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.

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, so started searching for a new target.

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

Osborne’s partner, Sarah Andrews, told the court the "functioning alcoholic" was being treated for depression and had considered suicide in the weeks leading up to the attacks.

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.

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.


Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the sentencing of Darren Osborne.

Yesterday a jury unanimously found him guilty of murder and attempted murder in the Finsbury Park terror attack, which killed 51-year-old Makram Ali and injured nine other victims.

Lizzie Dearden2 February 2018 08:36

The sentencing hearing has started, with the jury returning to hear how long Darren Osborne will spend in prison

Lizzie Dearden2 February 2018 10:39

Jonathan Rees QC is reading a victim impact statement from Makram Ali's daughter, Razina Akhtar.

She said she is "struggling not to fall apart" and describes how the family faced an agonising wait to identify his body.

She says her mother is terrified of being attacked as she is a Muslim wearing a headscarf, and that they both suffer from nightmares.

Ms Akhtar says she constantly sees the image of her father' body as she identified it in the morgue

Lizzie Dearden2 February 2018 10:43

Ms Akhtar says her father lived his life without enemies and was beloved by his six children and two grandchildren.

"My father will never be forgotten, he will always stay in our hearts, his laughter will echo from the walls of our home and his smile will be refleted in our eyes."

Lizzie Dearden2 February 2018 10:46

Mr Rees has summarised victim impact statements from survivors of the attack, who describe suffering nightmares, trauma, insomnia and other ongoing effects that have had a terrible impact on their personal lives and work

Lizzie Dearden2 February 2018 10:46

Mr Rees is now going through Osborne's criminal history, which could not be disclosed at trial because it could prejudice the jury.

He has appeared in court 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 burglary, theft, fraud and drug possession

Lizzie Dearden2 February 2018 10:49

There was a period of eight years when he was "relatively trouble-free" in the early 2000s but was then re-arrested for theft and shoplifting in South Wales.

Lizzie Dearden2 February 2018 10:50

Mr Rees has made recommendations to the judge for two people who he believes should be commended for their role in the case - the imam of the Muslim Welfare House and a police officer

Lizzie Dearden2 February 2018 10:53

Lisa Wilding QC, Osborne's barrister, is making representations over the sentence he should receive.

Osborne faces a whole-life term because his attack was politically motivated, she says, adding: "Although this case has been properly characterised as an act of terror, it's arguably not the most grave of its type"

Ms Wilding highlights the fact that Osborne was a functioning alcoholic with a troubled past, saying previous convictions have no racial element and he "became radicalised in a short period of time"

She says the judge just consider whether he poses a continued risk to the public

Lizzie Dearden2 February 2018 10:57

The judge, Justice Cheema-Grubb QC, has risen to consider the submissions

Lizzie Dearden2 February 2018 10:57

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