Finsbury Park terror attack accused ‘smiled after driving van into worshippers’
PUBLISHED: 09:42 25 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:02 25 January 2018
A man accused of carrying out the Finsbury Park terror attack smiled after ploughing a van into worshippers and blew a kiss at the angry crowd as he was bundled into a police vehicle, a court has heard.
Darren Osborne, of Cardiff, deliberately mowed down Muslims in Seven Sisters Road shortly after 12.15am on June 19 last year, prosecutors have alleged.
Witnesses saw the white vehicle accelerating as it approached the group, leaving them “splattered all over the place” and killing one, the jury at Woolwich Crown Court was told yesterday.
Ibrahim Benaounda, who was one of those struck, described the impact as like being “on a rollercoaster” and said he could feel his bones breaking as he spun in the air.
Minutes earlier, Makram Ali, 51, had fallen to the floor, prompting bystanders to rush to his aid.
Adnan Mohamud, who called 999 following Mr Ali’s collapse, said he would never forget the face of the van driver after he was wrestled to the ground following the collision.
In a statement read to court, the 28-year-old said: “Whilst this male was on the floor, I remember him saying: ‘I have done my job, you can kill me now.’ He was smiling as he said it.”
He added: “Something I will never forget was that he was constantly smiling. I knew at this point that what he did was not an accident - it was definitely deliberate.”
Abdulrahmen Aidroos, who was one of those who held the man down, said he could see “hate and anger in his face”.
The driver was detained by police and put in the back of their van in front of a “very angry” crowd, witness Susan Can said.
She said in a statement: “As he was sat in there, I saw him blow a kiss at the crowd. This made them angrier still.”
Imam Mohammed Mahmoud had urged a group of about 10 to 15 people – who were throwing punches at the alleged attacker “from almost every direction” – not to touch him after they stopped him fleeing.
Mr Mahmoud, from the Muslim Welfare House, told the court: “It was a natural response. He posed no harm to anybody. He was immobilised.
“He wasn’t a threat and therefore he should answer for his crime in a court such as this, which he is doing now, and not in a court in the streets.”
Osborne denies the murder of Mr Ali and attempted murder of “persons at the junction of Seven Sisters Road and Whadcoat Street, London”.
Mohammed Geedi, 28, said he saw and heard the white van speeding up and the noise of gears changing as it turned into Whadcoat Street.
He told the court: “I see the big white van, I can see the headlights... I can hear a rev.”
From the noise of the engine, he said he could hear the driver “from gear one accelerating, holding the clutch and changing into gear two” to “pick up the pace”.
Describing the scene after the impact, he said: “I looked at a lot of people just splattered all over the place.”
Witness Mahad Mohamed Ismail said it seemed as if the driver’s foot was “flat” on the pedal as the vehicle moved towards the crowd.
He said: “It was revving its engine as it ran into the people.”
Hamdi Alfaiq, who was left with “life-changing” injuries after being knocked unconscious, was dragged underneath the van after being struck.
The 38-year-old, who walked into court using a crutch, had been offering Mr Ali a drink of water before he “felt something hit me ... very strong”, he said, gesturing at his face.
He told the jury: “They pulled me out but I don’t remember anything from when I was underneath.”
Mr Benaounda, who was also hit, said: “When it hit me it felt like being on a rollercoaster, and spinning round and round. I could feel everything. I could feel my bones breaking.”
He had been supporting Mr Ali’s head as he lay injured in the moments beforehand.
Mr Benaounda said in his statement: “He (Mr Ali) stated to me that he just wanted to go home and attempted to get up.”
Waleed Salim, Mr Alfaiq’s cousin, said he thought Mr Ali, who was “panting” but conscious, “would have been fine if the ambulance had arrived before what happened next”.
Court report by Press Association
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Islington Gazette. Click the link in the orange box above for details.