Finsbury Park terror attack: Darren Osborne 'tried to kill as many Muslims as possible'
PUBLISHED: 13:00 22 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:08 24 January 2018
A man accused of carrying out the Finsbury Park terror attack "decided to take matters into his own hands" after growing angry at a rise in terrorism and the Rotherham child exploitation scandal, a court heard today.
Darren Osborne, 48, allegedly mowed down Makram Ali, 51, and nine other people on a crowded pavement with a heavy Luton box van near Muslim Welfare House in Seven Sisters Road early on June 19 last year.
The area was busy with worshippers attending Ramadan night prayers at the time, the jury at Woolwich Crown Court was told.
Opening the trial, prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC told the court: “The prosecution say that the evidence establishes that the defendant was trying to kill as many of the group as possible.
“In the event, he killed one person, a 51-year-old man called Makram Ali, and in addition he injured many others, some of them seriously.”
He added: “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.”
Osborne, of Glyn Rhosyn, in Cardiff, is charged with the murder of Mr Ali and attempted murder of “persons at the junction of Seven Sisters Road and Whadcoat Street, London”, which he denies.
The defendant had driven from Cardiff to London the previous day originally intending to drive the van into people taking part in the Al Quds Day march, but began looking for another target when this did not prove viable, the court heard.
A handwritten note was found in the cab of the van within hours of the attack, which complained about terrorists on the streets and the Rotherham child exploitation scandal, Mr Rees said.
The note, which branded Islington North MP and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn a “terrorist sympathiser” and attacked London Mayor Sadiq Khan, included the comments: “This is happening up and down our green and pleasant land.
“Ferral [sic], inbred, raping Muslim men, hunting in packs, preying on our children.”
It added: “Get back to the desert you raping, inbred bastards and climb back onto your camels.”
Mr Rees told the jury: “The underlying theme seems to be that the defendant felt that insufficient was being said or done to counter terrorism and the grooming gangs comprising predominantly Muslim males.
“Against that background, the defendant decided to take matters into his own hands. He planned to make a public statement by killing Muslims, knowing that his handwritten note would be recovered by the authorities.”
He added: “Although there is no terrorist offence for you to consider in this case, the prosecution say that the note and the comments he made after his detention establish that this act of extreme violence was, indeed, an act of terrorism.
“That was the motivation behind it, designed to influence government and intimidate the Muslim community, and done for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, ideological or racial cause.”
The court heard the Al Quds march, organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission to express support for Palestinians, was due to take place on the afternoon of June 18 in central London.
Osborne is said to have asked a black cab driver for directions to Grosvenor Square, the destination of the marchers, which was allegedly his initial target.
Mr Rees said: “We are not able to say quite how close the defendant came to the marchers or Grosvenor Square, although it seems likely the defendant was prevented from carrying out an attack because of the road closures that were put in place.”
The jury heard the defendant then travelled to Forest Hill, in Lewisham, south London, and asked a man where the nearest mosque was at around 8pm. He was told there were none in the area.
Osborne then travelled northbound, stopping after the Blackwall Tunnel to ask a motorist the directions to Finsbury Park, Mr Rees said.
The driver allowed the defendant to follow him and he arrived in Finsbury Park just before 11.30pm.
Mr Rees said he then approached people and enquired about the whereabouts of the Finsbury Park Mosque or “the big Mosque”, claiming there was going to be a protest there.
Jurors were played CCTV footage of victim Mr Ali collapsing shortly before a van drives into the group which had flocked to his aid.
In the footage, a white van can be seen turning sharply off the road, mounting the curb and ploughing into the group of people, some of whom later spill on to the adjacent bus lane as they attempt to pin down the driver.
Several of those who went to help Mr Ali said he was “definitely alive” and conscious in the moments before being struck.
One male, who cradled Mr Ali’s head, said he started mumbling before saying more clearly that he just wanted to go home and had attempted to get up.
Following the incident, a number of men tried to prevent the driver’s escape and keep him pinned to the ground as he was heard to say “I want to kill more Muslims”, Mr Rees continued.
Another man in the group remembered the defendant – who was “constantly smiling” after he had been detained – saying: “I’ve done my job, you can kill me now”, he said.
Osborne initially claimed he had lost control of the van and had drunk a couple of pints, but a road-side breath test showed no alcohol in his system, Mr Rees said.
He also asked for protection from the crowd, some of who had aimed blows at him during the street tussle, the court was told.
The trial continues.
Court report by Press Association