Far-right loner gets 43 years for Finsbury Park ‘suicide mission’ terror attack
Darren Osborne was seen smiling and blowing a kiss to angry bystanders in the moments after the murderous act.
A jobless loner who deliberately mowed down Muslim worshippers in Finsbury Park in a “suicide mission” terror attack has been jailed for at least 43 years.
Darren Osborne ploughed a hire van on to a crowded pavement outside two mosques in north London shortly after midnight on June 19 last year, killing Makram Ali, 51, and injuring 12 others.
The 48-year-old, who had denied murder and attempted murder, acted to “kill, maim, injure and terrify” as many people as possible in a bid to sow “long-lasting terror among the Muslim population”.
Osborne, who stood with his hands crossed in front of him as sentence was passed at Woolwich Crown Court, gave no reaction as Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb told him: “This was a terrorist attack. You intended to kill.”
Ruzina Akhtar, one of Mr Ali’s six children, appeared emotional outside court as she told how the family could not imagine what her father had felt in his final moments before being struck by the van.
Father-of-four Osborne had been “rapidly radicalised” by far-right material online and his “rage” fuelled by a string of UK terror attacks committed by “extremist Islamists”, the court heard.
“Over the space of a month or so your mindset became one of malevolent hatred,” the judge said.
“In short, you allowed your mind to be poisoned by those who claim to be leaders.”
A jury took just one hour to convict Osborne on Thursday, dismissing his 11th-hour defence that a “fabricated” accomplice named Dave had been driving at the point of impact.
Sentencing on Friday, the judge said: “You have been convicted on overwhelming evidence by an intelligent British jury who saw through your pathetic last-ditch attempt to deceive them by blaming someone else for your crimes.”
She described his murderous rampage as a “suicide mission”, adding that a handwritten note found in the cab of the van revealed his “twisted view of Muslims”.
The court heard he had become “obsessed” with Muslims after watching BBC drama Three Girls and was angered by what he deemed as inaction following a string of UK terror attacks.
Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said while he was radicalised in just weeks, his conduct in court exposed his “unreformed attitude and lack of insight” and his “belligerent and violent” character would pose a significant risk to the public for a long time to come.
During his nine-day trial, Osborne told the court he had wanted to kill senior Labour figures including leader Jeremy Corbyn and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
He had also plotted to murder Rochdale Labour councillor Aftab Hussain, who he said had backed a member of grooming gangs, but called it off because he wanted “more casualties”.
The attacker admitted he had initially hoped to target the pro-Palestinian Al Quds march in central London, but his plans were thwarted by road closures.
Instead, he made his way to Finsbury Park, where he struck Muslims leaving evening prayers on the junction between Seven Sisters Road and Whadcoat Street.
Two minutes earlier Mr Ali had collapsed on the floor, just 100 yards from his front door, prompting bystanders to rush to his aid.
Mrs Akhtar said her mother now struggles to sleep alone and fears leaving the house in case she is targeted because she is wearing a headscarf.
In a statement read to the court, she said her heart had been “shattered” by the death of her father, adding: “His life was taken in a cruel way by a very narrow-minded, heartless being.”
Following sentencing, she told reporters Mr Ali had been a “peaceful and simple man”, adding: “Our father, like the victims of most terrorism, was entirely innocent, which makes his death in this violent way all the more hurtful.
“We cannot imagine the trauma he felt in his last few minutes.”
The judge commended the actions of Imam Mohammed Mahmoud, of the Muslim Welfare House, who “had the strength of character to do the right thing under pressure”, when he stopped angry bystanders from attacking Osborne after the collision.
She said: “His behaviour throws into sharp relief the bile spewed out online from those who aspire to lead the haters.”
Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb added: “He chose to respond to evil with good. His response should be everyone’s response, whether it is to the evil of child grooming and abuse in Rochdale or the evil of terrorist atrocities in our cities.”
The court heard Osborne had a criminal record spanning 30 years and had appeared in court on 33 occasions for 102 convictions.
He first appeared in court aged just 15 and went on to commit an array of offences including shoplifting, fraud, burglary and assault.
He was sentenced to two years in prison for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm in 2006.