Muslim hater guilty of mosque terror attack
A man who vowed to “kill all the Muslims” has been found guilty of murder and attempted murder after launching a terror attack on Muslims in Finsbury Park last year.
It took the jury at Woolwich Crown Court just 59 minutes to convict Darren Osborne, 48, of killing 51-year-old Makram Ali and injuring nine others.
Osborne only nodded and looked around the court room as the verdicts were read out.
During the trial, the court heard he deliberately drove a van into a crowd of Muslim worshippers in north London in the early hours of 19 June.
The court was told how Osborne’s attack was fuelled by a hatred for Muslims and how he had initially planned to kill “as many people as possible” at an Islamic march in London the day before.
Osborne, from Glyn Rhosyn in Cardiff, south Wales, admitted to a jury he also hoped to kill Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who he thought would attend the Al Quds Day march.
He told the court: “If (London mayor) Sadiq Khan would have been there it would have been even better, like winning the lottery.”
Osborne’s initial plan was thwarted when he discovered he could not gain access to the march in central London.
Instead, he drove for hours in the capital – looking for an alternative target.
Osborne asked for directions to the nearest mosque and then travelled to Finsbury Park.
The court was shown CCTV footage of Osborne doing laps around the area, with cameras capturing the moment he drove through a crowd of people in Islamic dress.
During the trial, prosecutor Jonathan Rees said: “To seek to kill someone merely because of their religion is a terrible thing.
“And what makes this act particularly horrific is that the group he drove into had gathered in the street in order to help Makram Ali, the deceased, who had collapsed as he walked along Seven Sisters Road a couple of minutes before the defendant carried out his attack.”
The impact of the large van killed Mr Ali and left others with life-changing injuries.
A 999 call made after Mr Ali’s collapse was played in court.
The moment the van hits the crowd could be heard, followed by minutes of chaos, with the caller asking for more ambulances.
The jury, made up of eight women and four men, heard Osborne’s motives for the attack were clear from a handwritten note found in the van.
It complained about terrorists on UK streets and the Rotherham child grooming scandal.
The note referred to Muslims as “feral” and described Muslim men as “rapists”, declaring they were: “Hunting in packs preying on our children, this will be coming to a town near you soon, it most probably has, get back to the desert, you raping inbred bastards & climb back on ya camels.”
Osborne also called Mr Corbyn a “terrorist sympathiser” and lambasted Mr Khan and pop star Lily Allen, the prosecutor told the jury.
Ending the note, Osborne wrote: “Well Folkes gotta go busy day today. Remember peaceful vigils only & please dont look back in anger, God Save the Queen.”
It is believed he wrote the letter in a pub the day before he drove to London in a hired van.
CCTV footage of the Holybush pub, near Cardiff, showed Osborne writing a note and drinkers said he was ranting about Muslims before he was asked to leave.
Witnesses told how Osborne declared: “I’m going to kill all the Muslims, Muslims are all terrorists.
“Your families are all going to be Muslim. I’m going to take it into my own hands.”
According to Osborne’s long-term girlfriend, he developed his Islamophobic views in a relatively short time.
Sarah Andrews said Osborne had become “obsessed” with Muslims in the weeks leading up to his attack, having watched the BBC drama Three Girls about the Rochdale grooming scandal.
The programme aired in May, not long after the Westminster terror attack in March.
As Osborne became more extreme in his views, the UK was struck by two more attacks: Manchester in May, and London Bridge in June.
In her witness statement, Ms Andrews said her boyfriend was a “ticking time bomb”, adding: “He seemed brainwashed and totally obsessed.”
Mobile phones and tablets seized by police from Osborne’s home showed internet searches for far-right groups, including Britain First and the English Defence League (EDL).
In the weeks leading up to the attack, Ms Andrews told police Osborne had been reading posts by former EDL leader Tommy Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, on Twitter.
The court heard Osborne had also received mailing list emails from Mr Robinson and an automated direct message on Twitter from Britain First’s deputy leader Jayda Fransen.
Osborne showed no remorse throughout his trial.
As the prosecution case came to a close, Osborne submitted a late defence statement claiming he planned the attack with “a guy called Dave” and another man called “Terry Jones”.
Osborne, described as a functioning alcoholic, said he had come up with the plan with “Dave” and “Terry” down their local pub.
Claiming “Dave” was driving the van when it struck the worshippers, Osborne added he was in the footwell of the vehicle and had no idea what was happening.
Asked many times where “Dave” is now and how it was possible for him to flee the scene without any cameras or witnesses seeing him, Osborne told the court: “He’s like (the magician) ‘Dynamo’, an illusion.
“An illusionist. He can make himself vanish perhaps.”
This story was branded “absurd” by prosecutors, who told Osborne: “This story is a total fabrication, isn’t it? You invented ‘Dave’ and ‘Terry’, didn’t you?”
Osborne refused to confirm this and at many points appeared to make jokes in court.
At one stage Osborne claimed he, “Dave” and “Terry” planned to form a Welsh far-right group called “The Taffia”.
Multiple witnesses said Osborne was smiling after the attack.
“I’ve done my job,” Osborne said to people as they held him and waited for police.
“You can kill me now,” he was said to have added.
Many of those injured in the attack are still recovering and some have hired a lawyer, Dushal Mehta, to help them with claims for compensation.
After Osborne’s conviction, Mr Mehta said the trial had been a “horrendous ordeal” for those affected, adding: “Several of our clients have been left severely physically and mentally injured, affecting their whole lives.
“Some have lost their jobs because of those injuries and have been unable to look after their wives and children as they would want.
“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, but the mental scars suffered by the whole community are much more difficult to repair.”
Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “Osborne’s evil and cowardly actions meant a family has tragically lost a husband, father and grandfather.
“There were also 12 others, who, having gone to Mr Ali’s aid, sustained various injuries from the collision. Some of those injured 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.
He added: “Only he will know, but if Osborne’s aim was to create divisions and hate between communities, then from what I have seen, he has failed in that respect.
“The way that the local community in Finsbury Park – of all faiths and backgrounds – came together was astounding and this reaction was the same across London and the UK.
“I must also praise those who initially detained Osborne immediately after the attack – in particular the local Imam, who ensured that Osborne didn’t come to any significant harm whilst waiting for officers to arrive at the scene.
“Again, this response and the overwhelmingly positive reaction my officers and teams have witnessed since, just further highlights how far from reality Osborne’s sick and twisted views really are.”
Osborne will be sentenced on Friday for what the prosecution described as an “act of terrorism”.