Darren Osborne blames man called ‘Dave’ for Finsbury Park terror attack, admits intending to kill Jeremy Corbyn
- Credit: PA
Darren Osborne, the man accused of carrying out the Finsbury Park terror attack, this afternoon said he planned to kill Islington North MP and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
And Osborne claims he wasn’t the man who drove a van into a crowd of Muslims in Seven Sisters Road on June 19 last year, killing Makram Ali and injuring nine others.
Taking to the witness stand, he said it was a man called “Dave” behind the wheel. Osborne said he was hidden in a footwell by the passenger seat.
Osborne told Woolwich Crown Court he initially planned to target Mr Corbyn at the Al-Quds march in Grosvenor Square, central London, on June 18. The Finsbury Park attack happened hours later.
Under cross examination from prosecutor Jonathan Rees, Osborne said: “Jeremy Corbyn is a regular attendee – although for reasons unknown, he wasn’t there.”
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Mr Rees asked: “Were you hoping to attack Jeremy Corbyn - to kill him?”
Osborne replied: “Oh yeah - one less terrorist off our streets.”
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He added: “And if Sadiq Khan was there, even better. It would have been like winning the lottery.”
Osborne’s defence case opened this afternoon. The 48-year-old, from Cardiff, denies murder and attempted murder in Seven Sisters Road’s junction with Whadcoat Street.
Under cross examination from defence lawyer Lisa Wilding, Osborne was asked: “Were you the driver of the van?”
He replied: “No. It was a guy called Dave.”
Osborne told the jury he didn’t know what “Dave’s” second name was. He met him – and another accomplice called “Terry Jones” – at a pub in Wales last April.
Osborne said his attempts to attack the Grosvenor Square march were “thwarted” because the road was blocked. He then “stumbled” upon Lewisham. After a conversation with “Dave” and “Terry Jones”, he told the court, he “ended up in Finsbury Park – because it was Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency”.
He continued telling Ms Wilding: “At some point, I was going through the tunnel near the mosque. It was at that point when ‘Dave’ popped in the van.
“We swapped over while still driving. I thought nothing was going to happen. I thought we were going to park up, have a drink and just abandon things for the time being.
“I remember the impact as it turned left [into the crowd including Mr Ali]. It reminded me of Hungry Hippo.”
Prosecutor Mr Rees later asked why Osborne got out of the van’s driver’s door after the incident, when he had claimed to be on the passenger side. He let out a sigh: “No explanation.”
Mr Rees continued: “Somehow, ‘Dave’ seems to have got away?”
Osborne, who has been wearing the same navy shirt since the trial opened last Monday, replied: “I am at loss to explain. It’s remarkable.”
He told the court “Terry Jones” had been “getting the drinks in” at an unspecified pub.
He added later: “When we got to Finsbury Park I was exhausted. I had lost my nerve. I wanted to regroup. I had lost my bottle. I thought we were going to postpone things, do something with a bit more substance.”
When asked by Mr Rees what “Dave” did for a living, Osborne said: “Unemployed – bits and bobs.”
Mr Rees suggested: “It’s absurd, isn’t it – your account?”
“No,” said Osborne.
After Osborne’s defence case came to light, the prosecution re-opened parts of its case this morning, alleging that he had indeed acted alone.
Mr Rees played a body worn police video to the court, showing Osborne sat in a police van after the attack.
In the video, he told the police officer: “I lost control of the van.”
Police officer: “Huh?”
Osborne: “I lost control, man.”
Police officer: “Had you had a drink?”
Osborne: “No. I had a couple of pints, yeah.”
The prosecution also read out a statement by Abdul Choudhury, a friend of Mr Ali’s from Finsbury Park. He had been to pray at Finsbury Park Mosque, just around the corner from where the attack happened, at 10.45pm on June 18. He left shortly after midnight.
“We were walking behind a group including Makram,” he said. “At Whadcoat Street, I saw him slip. I went to try and catch him but was on crutches myself. I felt weak. People stopped to assist. I was saying to him: ‘Brother, brother.’ He opened an eye.
“Someone was about to give him some water when I was suddenly hit from behind by what I now know was the van. I saw it hit Makram on the ground. The van stopped about 15 yards away.
“I saw a white male get out of the driver’s seat. He was wearing a blue t-shirt. He started to run towards the gated area away from Seven Sisters Road. He didn’t get far. Some people tried to beat him, some tried to apprehend him. I heard him shout: ‘I will kill all Muslims.’
“The imam said not to hurt him, but hold him until police arrived. At one point he grabbed a man by the trousers and said: ‘I want to kill you.’ I can say for certain the man getting out the driver’s seat was the same man.”
Osborne was taken to University College Hospital, in Euston Road, the court heard. He was under police protection in his hospital bed.
In another statement read out to the court, Det Cons Paul Dring said he asked Osborne: “Just in terms of what happened today, is there anyone else involved?” Osborne, the court heard, said: “No.”
The trial continues.