Man given life for Finsbury Park terror attack
A man who deliberately drove a van into a group of Muslims near a north London mosque has been given a life sentence for murder and attempted murder. These were prosecuted as acts of terrorism.
Darren Osborne, 48, was found guilty on 1 February at Woolwich Crown Court and sentenced to a minimum of 43 years in prison on Friday 2 February.
Osborne hired the van in South Wales and drove it to London on Sunday 18 June planning to attack people attending the Al Quds Day march. When that proved impossible he drove around the capital looking for a mosque. He arrived in the Finsbury area just before midnight.
Seven Sisters Road was relatively busy at the time because it was Ramadan and many Muslims were going to, or coming from, prayers at either the Finsbury Park Mosque or the Muslim Welfare House.
Just after midnight Osborne saw a crowd helping 51-year-old Makram Ali who had collapsed at the junction of Seven Sisters Road and Whadcoat Street. Some of those in the group were wearing traditional Islamic dress. Osborne deliberately drove his vehicle into the group, killing Mr Ali and trying to kill as many others as he could.
A witnesses recalled Osborne saying, “I’ve done my job, you can kill me now” when he was stopped by members of the public as he tried to escape. He later said, “At least I had a proper go”.
During the trial at Woolwich Crown Court, Osborne invented the involvement of a man called “Dave”. He said “Dave” had taken his place in the driver’s seat minutes before the attack and was the one responsible. When asked why CCTV footage showed only one man leaving the van and what had happened to “Dave”, he was unable to provide a rational explanation.
The CPS prosecuted the case as a terrorist offence because Osborne’s actions were in order to advance a political purpose. A handwritten note found in the van and Osborne’s comments to the police caught on a police officer’s body-worn camera indicated that he wanted to use violence in response to other criminal violence, in particular the child grooming that occurred in Rochdale and the terror attacks in London and Manchester in 2017. The note and comments displayed Osborne’s resentment towards senior politicians, public figures and Muslims in general.
Osborne will be sentenced at a later date. The prosecution will ask the court to take account of the fact that this was a terrorist act when that sentence is decided.
Sue Hemming from the CPS said: “Darren Osborne planned and carried out this attack because of his hatred of Muslims.
“He later invented an unconvincing story to counter the overwhelming weight of evidence but the jury has convicted him.
“We have been clear throughout that this was a terrorist attack, and he must now face the consequences of his actions.”
Notes to editors
1. Darren Osborne (dob 30/11/1969) was charged with one count of murder and one count of attempted murder.
2. Makram Ali (dob 29/11/1965) lived nearby and had been praying in the Muslim Welfare House. CCTV recordings show that a couple of minutes before the attack, he was walking alone along Seven Sisters Road, aided by a walking stick, when he suddenly collapsed to the ground. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 01.04am.
3. Sue Hemming is Head of the Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division in the CPS.