As it happenedended1517413125

Finsbury Park attack trial - as it happened: Darren Osborne claims another man took wheel of van and then 'vanished like Dynamo'

Father-of-four denies being behind the wheel of van as it hit Muslim worshippers

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday 31 January 2018 11:19
More tributes were left yesterday to the victims of the Finsbury Park attack
More tributes were left yesterday to the victims of the Finsbury Park attack

The alleged Finsbury Park attacker has claimed another man ploughed a van into Muslims and then “vanished”.

Darren Osborne returned to the stand on Wednesday morning, telling the jury the deadly attack was carried out by a man called Dave, who was not seen by witnesses or recorded on CCTV.

“He’s like Dynamo, he’s an illusion, an illusionist, he can make himself vanish perhaps, I don't know,” he told the jury.

Mr Osborne claims he, Dave and another man called Terry Jones planned to attack a pro-Palestinian march in London but that he had no knowledge of an attack in Finsbury Park and was not driving at the time.

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC said the defendant’s “absurd” account was a “desperate attempt” to get himself off the hook.

He denies charges of murder and attempted murder over a van ramming Muslims leaving Ramadan prayers on 19 June, which killed one man and injured nine other victims.

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Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC accused the defendant of “fabricating” the account, which was not presented to lawyers until Friday, after hearing the evidence against him.

The defendant told the jury he met Dave and Terry in a pub in Treforest, but two managers from The Pick and Shovel previously described him as a “loner” who drank by himself.

The father-of-four said the original plan was to kill a Labour politician who allegedly wrote a reference for an abuser, but that “we just wanted more casualties”.

Mr Osborne said the next target was the Al-Quds Day march that took place in central London on 18 June, and admitted hiring the van to ram it into pro-Palestinian marchers expected to include Mr Corbyn and Mr Khan.

Mr Osborne said road blocks and security “thwarted our plans” so they decided to look for a nearby mosque and settled on Finsbury Park because it was inside Mr Corbyn’s constituency.

He said he drove there alone without a specific plan and that Dave “hopped” inside the van as it drove through a tunnel and switched into the driver’s seat shortly before the ramming.

He claimed he moved into the passenger footwell to change his trousers, adding: “All I remember is peering over the van as he turned left in the collision and I just remember the impact, it reminded me of a Hungry Hippo... and then the door opened and Dave was gone.”

While being cross-examined by Mr Rees, he said he could not explain how Dave disappeared without being caught on CCTV or seen by dozens of witnesses.

Police have found no evidence of anyone apart from Mr Osborne inside the van and said there was no point where it could have stopped in Finsbury Park to let another person get in.

Survivors told the court there was only one person inside the cab during the attack, and saw only one man – Mr Osborne – flee the vehicle afterwards.

Footage previously played to the court showed Mr Osborne telling police he was the van’s driver after being arrested and he allegedly told another officer: “I’m flying solo, mate.”

Mr Osborne claimed he decided to abruptly submit the defence statement on Friday after “a lot of soul-searching”.

He could not explain several inconsistencies between that statement and his testimony in court.

Mr Rees told him: “I suggest that Dave and Terry’s participation in these events is a total fabrication - it’s a fabrication that came about when you saw the prosecution could prove the case against you.”

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Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the Finsbury Park attack trial. Darren Osborne, who denies murder and attempted murder, is due to take the stand for a second time again.

The suspect admits hiring a van and driving it from Cardiff to London to attack a pro-Palestinian march but denies being behind the wheel when it hit a crowd of Muslim worshippers and killed 51-year-old Makram Ali.

He claims the plan was conconced with two men he met in a Welsh pub called Dave and Terry Jones, but the prosecution alleges he "fabricated" the story on Friday after hearing their evidence.

Here is a summary of what the court heard yesterday:

Lizzie Dearden31 January 2018 08:38
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We are back in court and Darren Osborne is in the stand to continue giving evidence.

He will be cross-examined by the lead prosecutor, Jonathan Rees QC

Lizzie Dearden31 January 2018 10:41
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Mr Rees is questioning the defendant on the Nokia phone he claims to have bought and used to contact Terry and Dave in the four months leading up to the attack and on the day.

It was not recovered and police have found no record of Mr Osborne buying or using any phone other than the iPhone found at the scene and another at his home.

Lizzie Dearden31 January 2018 10:43
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Mr Rees asks Mr Osborne about how he kept in touch with his alleged co-conspirators on the day.

He says it "seems" he had it in the van but can't remember the number of the phone or when he got rid of it.

Mr Rees says: "You can't remember because there was no Nokia phone, was there?"

Mr Osborne insists there was.

Lizzie Dearden31 January 2018 10:44
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Mr Rees is taking Mr Osborne through CCTV stills of the van driving around Finsbury Park.

"You turn into Station Place," he says. "That's correct," Mr Osborne replies.

It's unclear when the defendant claims 'Dave' jumped into the moving van and took over driving before the attack

Lizzie Dearden31 January 2018 10:45
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Pushed again on whether he was driving when the van turned into Station Place, shortly before the attack took place nearby in Finsbury Park, he confirms he was.

"I can't remember what Dave was wearing," he adds.

Lizzie Dearden31 January 2018 10:47
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"It doesn't appear by this point that you have picked up Dave yet," Mr Rees asks and Mr Osborne agrees.

CCTV shows the van doing a U-turn in Station Place and entering Seven Sisters Road then heading back up towards the railway bridge.

Mr Osborne agrees again that it is him driving at this point.

Lizzie Dearden31 January 2018 10:48
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"Where are you suggesting that you picked up Dave?" Mr Osborne asks.

"Shortly before the incident," he replies. "I don't know what it's called."

Lizzie Dearden31 January 2018 10:49
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Mr Rees asks how he can explain how Dave was picked up if it wasn't caught on CCTV.

Mr Osborne: "It must have been at a point where CCTV didn't pick that image up. I wouldn't have thought it covers every single..."

Pushed, Mr Osborne claims Dave jumped in the van under a railway bridge.

He and the jury heard last week that four seconds of the van's movement was not filmed, but a police officer testified that it could not have stopped in that time

Lizzie Dearden31 January 2018 10:53
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Asked what happened after Dave was picked up, Mr Osborne says he told him Terry was "getting them in" at the pub and that they joked about Diane Abbott but didn't discuss a plan.

He says Dave said "it's potato, potato" and by that he understood there would not be an attack.

"I wasn't interested...I wanted things done properly to cause as much damage as possible."

Lizzie Dearden31 January 2018 10:55

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