Finsbury Park terror attack accused ‘hoped to kill Jeremy Corbyn’
Darren Osborne denies the murder of Makram Ali.
A man accused of carrying out a terror attack at Finsbury Park had hoped to kill Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, he told a court.
Darren Osborne, of Glyn Rhosyn in Cardiff, is alleged to have deliberately mowed down Muslims outside two mosques in north London using a van shortly after 12.15am on June 19 last year.
The 48-year-old, taking to the witness stand, said he had plotted with two men called Terry Jones and Dave to “plough through as many” people as possible at a pro-Palestinian march in central London the day before.
Mr Corbyn was also believed to be attending the event but was not there, and road closures meant there was no way for the vehicle to get close to marchers, Osborne told Woolwich Crown Court.
But he denied that he was the driver of the van when it later collided with worshippers in Finsbury Park and claimed he had been removing his trousers in the footwell of the passenger side.
The trio, who had planned to form a Welsh far-right group called the “Taffia”, had initially plotted to murder Rochdale Labour councillor Aftab Hussain, the court heard.
Osborne claimed Mr Hussain had backed one of the members of a grooming gang in the area and “is and will remain a target”.
The group decided instead to target the Al Quds march, Osborne said, adding: “We just wanted more casualties.”
Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC, cross-examining, said: “More people dead if possible?”
Osborne replied: “Oh yeah.”
Mr Rees went on: “Were you hoping that you would have an opportunity to attack Jeremy Corbyn and kill him?”
Osborne replied “Oh yeah”, adding: “It would be one less terrorist off our streets.
“If Sadiq Khan had been there it would have been even better. It would have been like winning the lottery.”
Osborne said Terry and Dave were with him near the end of the march in Grosvenor Square, but after their plans were “thwarted” he travelled separately to south London.
The group later agreed to meet in Finsbury Park, where he thought they were going to “regroup”, he told the court.
“I was up for an attack that day but when we got to Finsbury Park I was just so exhausted, I sort of lost my nerve,” he said.
Osborne said Dave was driving the van at the time of the collision, but could not say at what point he had swapped into the driver’s seat.
He told the court that he did not know that Dave was planning to carry out the attack, describing it as “spontaneous”.
The defendant said all he could remember was peering out of the van before the moment of impact, which he said “sort of reminded me of Hungry Hippos”.
Mr Rees said: “Somehow he (Dave) seems to have got away even though he was the driver.”
Both prosecutor and defendant agreed this was “remarkable”.
The court heard that Osborne had not initially entered a defence statement, but did as the prosecution case drew to a close on Friday.
Asked why, he said: “I felt I had to tell the truth.”
“The truth being that Dave was the driver?” asked Mr Rees.
“That’s right,” he replied.
Osborne denies the murder of Makram Ali, 51, and the attempted murder of “persons at the junction of Seven Sisters Road and Whadcoat Street, London”.