The brother of home-grown jihadi suicide-bomber Salman Abedi is facing life in prison after being convicted of plotting the “cruel and cowardly” attack that murdered 22 people and injured hundreds more at Manchester Arena.
Members of the victims’ families sobbed and embraced as the jury foreman yesterday took four minutes to answer “guilty” to the 22 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and one count of conspiring with his brother to cause explosions, against Hashem Abedi after less than five hours of deliberations.
Families who spent seven weeks listening to the Old Bailey trial from remote courts in the north of England described the “overwhelming sense of justice” at seeing Abedi convicted. The Manchester-born 22-year-old was again absent from court as the unanimous verdicts were passed. He had sacked his legal team and withdrawn from the case in a continued attempt to evade responsibility for the carnage of 22 May, 2017.
Speaking outside court in Manchester yesterday afternoon, Paul Hett, father of 29-year-old Martyn Hett, who was among those murdered in the blast as crowds left an Ariana Grande pop concert, said: “This verdict will not bring back the 22 victims murdered by Salman and Hashem Abedi.
“Nor will it restore normality to the 22 families whose lives have been totally shattered by this murderous attack.
“This verdict will not heal the wounds of the 264 people physically injured in the attack, many of whom with life-changing injuries.
“And this verdict will not help over 670 people who suffered psychological trauma after the attack, many still suffering today.
“But what this verdict will do is give an overwhelming sense of justice to all those affected by this heinous crime.”
Scottish teenager Eilidh MacLeod, 14, from Barra, was among those killed in the suicide bomb attack.
Responding to the verdicts, Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson, from Greater Manchester Police, said: “In the last few weeks Abedi absented himself from court, such was the contempt he showed for the proceedings and all those so deeply affected by this cowardly act.
“We are very pleased at this verdict and we thank the jury for their deliberations.”
It came as the senior investigating officer said Hashem was “every bit as responsible” as his older brother – and may have been the senior figure in the plot, intending further global bloodshed – even though he was in Libya when Salman detonated the bomb. Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Barraclough said: “If you look at these two brothers, they are not kids caught in the headlights of something they don’t understand.
“These two men are the real deal, these are proper jihadis. You do not walk into a space like the Manchester Arena and kill yourself with an enormous bomb like that, taking 22 innocent lives with you, if you are not a proper jihadist.”