Manchester Arena mass murderer Hashem Abedi has refused to enter court to be sentenced for his role in the bombing.
The 23-year-old, the younger brother of homegrown suicide bomber Salman Abedi, was absent from the Old Bailey’s courtroom number two on Wednesday, having effectively withdrawn from the trial part-way through, although he was said to be in the building.
Family members of some of the 22 people killed in the atrocity were present as Mr Justice Jeremy Baker was informed of Manchester-born Hashem’s refusal to attend.
Other relatives of victims and survivors are following the hearing by live link from Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Glasgow.
Addressing the court at the start of a two-day hearing, the judge said: “I have required in this case Hashem Abedi to be brought to Central Criminal Court.
“My understanding is that, having been brought to this building, Hashem Abedi has refused to come into the courtroom.
“That is a matter for HM Probation Service rather than myself. Force cannot be used.”
Hashem was found guilty by a jury in March of 22 counts of murder, attempted murder, and plotting to cause an explosion likely to endanger life.
The Old Bailey heard that the Islamic State-inspired jihadi helped his brother Salman order, collect and store materials needed for the deadly plot, before the latter blew himself up as thousands of men, women and children left an Ariana Grande concert on the night of May 22 2017.
The defendant, who travelled to Libya the month before the bombing, was arrested hours after the attack and was extradited back to Britain last summer.
Hashem initially told police he wanted to co-operate with them in order to prove his innocence.
But he absented himself from much of his trial and sacked his legal team.
It meant grieving families and survivors have been left without hearing from the man police believe may have actually masterminded the plot.
The judge confirmed that Hashem cannot be handed a whole life sentence because he was under the age of 21 at the time of the offences.
However, he could be given multiple life sentences with a minimum term starting point of 30 years.
During the trial, prosecutor Duncan Penny QC said Hashem was “just as guilty” as the bomber who killed 22 men, women and children aged between eight and 51.
From January 2017, the brothers set about buying nuts and screws for shrapnel and ordering chemicals from Amazon to make the homemade TATP explosives, with unwitting help from friends and relatives.
They hid their activities by switching mobile phones and using a variety of runaround vehicles, despite neither having passed a driving test, to transport components around the city.
They also secured two separate addresses away from their home in Elsmore Road, Fallowfield, Manchester – one to take delivery of the components and the other for a bomb-making factory.
Their plans were briefly scuppered when their parents insisted they join them in Libya in April 2017 amid possible concerns about their descent into radicalisation, police said, forcing the brothers to stockpile their stash in a second-hand Nissan Micra, bought for £250 the day before they left the UK.
Returning alone, Salman bought a rucksack and more shrapnel, constructed his bomb in a rented flat in central Manchester, and carried out reconnaissance missions.
Jurors were shown chilling CCTV footage of Salman, 22, travelling to the foyer of the Arena, before detonating his bomb at 10.31pm, just as crowds were leaving the venue.
Afterwards, Greater Manchester Police found Hashem’s fingerprints at key addresses and in the Micra, which still contained traces of explosives.
A small scrap of a Consumer’s Pride vegetable oil tin from the bomb site was matched to discarded pieces containing Hashem’s prints which were found elsewhere.
Hashem had hoarded the tins from a takeaway where he worked and fashioned prototype components, even though they were not used in the final device.
Mr Penny said Hashem was “at times chauffeur, at times quartermaster, at times electrical technician” in the plot.
Following his arrest, Hashem had tried to “point the finger of responsibility” at his dead brother but Mr Penny said it was merely “an attempt to evade responsibility for his own culpability, for the cruel and cowardly carnage that took place at the Arena that night”.
Speaking ahead of the sentencing, Figen Murray, whose 29-year-old son, Martyn Hett, was among the victims, said: “I trust the British legal system.
“Whatever the judge gives this person will be just punishment for a crime he committed.”
A public inquiry into the bombing is scheduled to start next month.