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Finsbury Park van attack: Driver “brainwashed” by anti-Islam material online

Trial of 48-year-old Darren Osborne accused of murdering Makram Ali starts

22 January, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Police block the road in Finsbury Park following the attack outside the Muslim Welfare Mosque

A BBC drama was the “catalyst” for the Finsbury Park van attacker becoming obsessed with Muslims and he was “brainwashed” by anti-Islam material online, a court heard today.

Darren Osborne, 48, was in Woolwich Crown Court today (Monday) charged with murder and attempted murder after he allegedly drove a rental van into worshippers leaving the Muslim Welfare House in Seven Sisters Road last June. Mr Osborne pleads not guilty to both counts.

Makram Ali, 51, who had collapsed and was being helped by passersbys was mowed down by the van – others suffered catastrophic injuries including broken bones. Witnesses say he was alive at the time of the van attack.

The court was told that Mr Osborne, who lived in Cardiff, had threatened to take his life on two occasions and his former partner Sarah Andrews described him as a “loner and a functioning alcoholic” who was prone to feeling “worthless”.

Although Mr Osborne lived with Ms Andrews and his four children, their relationship had been more-or-less over for a year.

Speaking for the prosecution, Mr Jonathan Rees QC said: “Importantly, Ms Andrews will say she noticed that the defendant had become obsessed with Muslims in the weeks leading up to the incident.

“He accused them all of being rapists and belonging to paedophile gangs. The catalyst for his obsession appears to have been the broadcast of the BBC drama Three Girls, which they had watched together on the television.”

The drama, which aired in May last year, focussed on child sexual exploitation perpetrated by men mostly of Pakistani origin in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

Mr Rees continued: “Ms Andrews noticed that the defendant became obsessed with the subject matter of the drama. He started researching associated topics on the internet, including material featuring Tommy Robinson, the co-founder and former spokesperson of the English Defence League.

“The defendant started making racist comments about all Muslims raping children and being capable of blowing people up. It appeared to her that he was becoming brainwashed.”

A handwritten note written by Mr Osborne recovered from the van within hours of the attack was also read out in court.

In his note, he described Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn as a “terrorist sympathiser”.

Mr Osborne also wrote: “Why are there terrorists on our streets today? We’ve had three recent terror attacks, our children spattered against the walls of concerts, part and parcel by all accounts, Mr Sadiq Khan.

“No it isn’t how can you let this happen? Terrorists marching through our capital city, you’re a disgrace, where was the public outrage after 1400 of our white British none-Muslim girls [sic]?

“Where were you in Rotherham, Lily Allen, Jeremy Corbyn, nowhere to be seen be seen just thinking about how many more inbred migrants you can bring into the country.”

Wearing a blue shirt with his hair combed, Mr Osborne only spoke to confirm his name on (Monday) morning.

The trial is scheduled to last for two weeks.

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