Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Police told of 'man drunk in a van' before mosque attack

By Johanna Carr

Police responded to reports of a "drunk man" sleeping in a van just 24 hours before the Finsbury Park attack, it has emerged.

A witness to the incident believes the drunk man was the attacker, but officers decided no offences had been committed when they went to the street in the Llanedeyrn/Pentwyn area of Cardiff, South Wales Police said.

The witness believes the man was Darren Osborne, and alleges he smelt of alcohol and was asleep with the van door open.

Osborne, a father-of-four, was arrested after worshippers were targeted by a man driving a van near Finsbury Park Mosque in north London early on Monday.

He has been charged with a range of offences, including attempted murder.

Images of the van show it was rented from Pontyclun Van Hire, near Cardiff.

Edward Gardiner (28), a self-employed builder and plumber who lives near Osborne's terraced home in Pentwyn, in east Cardiff, called police at 12.27am on Sunday to report concerns for the welfare of a man sitting in a Pontyclun Van Hire vehicle.

"I called police because I saw a random van in my cul-de-sac with someone drunk in it and the door open," he said.

"I could smell alcohol on him and he was grunting and groaning. I poked him, but he didn't respond, so I called 101. I gave them the reg, it was a 64 reg.

"It was a Pontyclun Van Hire van. They said they would sort it out. They didn't give me a crime reference number. I don't know if they came out.

"I thought it was some random drunk guy who wanted to pull over to have a kip. I thought someone should go and check on him. I didn't think anything about it, but then I saw the news reports and it was the same guy, the same van."

Yesterday, after being asked about Mr Gardiner's claims, South Wales Police confirmed officers attended a "report of an insecure van parked on a street in the Llanedeyrn area of Cardiff".

A spokesman said: "A male was asleep inside the vehicle, which showed no signs of having been driven recently.

"The officers' assessment was that no offences were disclosed."

When asked if the man had been spoken to by police, the spokesman said that was all the information he had.

Meanwhile, police have arrested a man after abusive comments about the attack were made on social media. South Wales Police detained the 37-year-old after a tweet was posted stating: "Shame they don't hire out steam rollers or tanks, could have done a tidy job".

The man behind it is alleged to be Richard Evans, the son of one of the directors of Pontyclun Van Hire, one of whose vehicle was used in the attack.

Comments by a "Richard Gear Evans" on Facebook and Twitter read: "It's a shame... that van was a nice drive as well.

"Glad I'm not running the van hire... the police wouldn't like what my answer would be.

"It's my Dad's company. I don't get involved. It's a shame they don't hire out steam rollers or tanks, could have done a tidy job."

The account has been deleted.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph