Manchester Arena attack: 14-year-old Scots victim Eilidh MacLeod's family give emotional impact statement in court as bomber's brother refuses to appear

Family members of the Manchester Arena bombing victims have been giving their impact statements in court today, including the parents of 14-year-old Scots girl Eilidh MacLeod who was killed.

It comes as the brother of bomber Salman Abedi refused to leave his cell to appear at the Old Bailey during a two-day sentencing hearing, as the emotional testimonies from bereaved relatives were read out.

Hashem Abedi is due to be sentenced for the murder of 22 people in the terror attack three year ago.

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Among the victims was 14-year-old Eilidh MacLeod, who lived on the isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides.

Eilidh MacLeod, 14, was among 22 people who died in the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

‘She loved her life’

A statement on behalf of her parents described her as a popular friend who was "wise, well beyond her years".

They said: "She loved her life and everything in it - and it wasn't hard to love her right back.

"Every day it's been a struggle for us to maintain our dignity - trying to put one foot in front of the other is the hardest thing in our lives.

"We still have to stop ourselves calling out her name for our dinner, that will never stop.

"Anger, fear, resentment and heartbreak is something we all have to live with.

"No parent who ever takes their child to a concert should ever have to take them home to bury them.

"We still have some good days, then we have some really bad days - it comes from absolutely nowhere and hits you in the chest."

Murder

Hashem Abedi 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 order, collect and store materials needed for the 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.

He initially told police he wanted to co-operate 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 not heard from the man police believe may have masterminded the plot.

The judge confirmed that Hashem Abedi 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 starting point of 30 years.

Trial

During the trial, prosecutor Duncan Penny QC said Hashem Abedi 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 for the homemade TATP explosive, with unwitting help from friends and relatives.

They hid their activities by switching mobile phones and using a variety of vehicles and homes to store the materials.

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.

Salman Abedi returned alone the next month, and 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 the 22-year-old travelling to the foyer of the Arena, before detonating his bomb at 10.31pm, just as crowds were leaving the venue.

Mr Penny said Hashem Abedi was "at times chauffeur, at times quartermaster, at times electrical technician" in the plot.

Following his arrest, he 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".

A public inquiry into the bombing is scheduled to start next month.

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