Life sentence for Finsbury Park mosque killer

Ruzina Akhtar, daughter of Finsbury Park victim Makram Ali, reads a statement to the media outside Woolwich Crown Court. Picture: PA
Ruzina Akhtar, daughter of Finsbury Park victim Makram Ali, reads a statement to the media outside Woolwich Crown Court. Picture: PA

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 19 June 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.