Man who drove van into Muslims in London convicted of murder

Forensic officers move the van which struck pedestrians near a Mosque at Finsbury Park in north London, on June 19, 2017 A Crown Court on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, found Darren Osborne guilty of murder and attempted murder in the June 2017 attack in the city's Finsbury Park neighborhood. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

LONDON (AP) — A man who steeped himself in far-right, anti-Muslim ideas before driving a van into a crowd of worshippers near a north London mosque was convicted Thursday of murder and attempted murder.

BACKGROUND: Finsbury Park attack a window onto two Britains: One seeking tolerance, the other revenge

A jury at London’s Woolwich Crown Court deliberated for just an hour before finding 48-year-old Darren Osborne guilty of the June 2017 attack in the city’s Finsbury Park neighborhood.

A 51-year-old man, Makram Ali, was killed and 15 people were injured when a rented van plowed into worshippers gathering after evening prayers during Ramadan.

In this undated image provided by London’s Metropolitan Police, showing Darren Osborne, 48, following his arrest after a vehicle struck pedestrians near a mosque in north London. A Crown Court on Feb. 1, 2018, found Darren Osborne guilty of murder and attempted murder in the June 2017 attack in the city’s Finsbury Park neighborhood. (Metropolitan Police via AP)

Prosecutors said Osborne was motivated by extreme Islamophobia and saw Muslims as extremists or rapists in pedophile gangs.

Several men who witnessed the attack pinned Osborne to the ground until police arrived. He was heard to say “I want to kill more Muslims,” prosecutor Jonathan Rees told the jury during the 10-day trial.

Another witness reported Osborne saying, “I’ve done my job, you can kill me now.”

Osborne, of Cardiff, Wales, had pleaded not guilty. He claimed a man named Dave was driving the van when it struck the crowd. Prosecutors argued that Dave did not exist, and no witnesses or video evidence were produced to indicate a second person in the van.

Prosecutors said Osborne was radicalized over just a few weeks, in part through online far-right propaganda. Searches for prominent extreme-right figures — including English Defense League founder Tommy Robinson and Britain First leader Paul Golding — were found on his computer.

Osborne’s partner, Sarah Andrews, told prosecutors he had become “brainwashed” and was a “ticking time bomb.”

Prosecutors said they classified the crime as terrorism because Osborne acted to advance a political purpose.

A note found in the van and Osborne’s comments to police mentioned a case in which a group of Muslim men were convicted of sexually exploiting women and girls in England, as well as the deadly Manchester Arena and London Bridge attacks carried out by Islamic radicals just weeks earlier.

Commander Dean Haydon, a senior counterterrorism officer with London’s Metropolitan Police, said the case showed how “individuals can become radicalized really, really quickly” online.

“To be honest, some individuals could look at material today and decide to go and do an attack later on this evening,” Haydon said.

Although he denied the murder charges, Osborne did not hide his aim to kill.

Giving evidence, he said he drove to London hoping to attack a pro-Palestinian march where his intended victims would have included Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party.

When he could not reach the march because roads were closed, Osborne went looking for a mosque instead.

Sue Hemming, head of counterterrorism at the Crown Prosecution Service, said Osborne “planned and carried out this attack because of his hatred of Muslims.”

“We have been clear throughout that this was a terrorist attack, and he must now face the consequences of his actions,” Hemming said.

Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, welcomed the verdict but said “we cannot be complacent and regard this as a one-off terrorist incident.” He said Islamophobia was “not only prevalent in far-right circles, but also made acceptable in our mainstream.”

Most of the arrests and attacks classified as terrorism in Britain in recent years have been motivated by Islamic extremism, but police say there is a growing threat from the far right. In 2016 Labour lawmaker Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death by an attacker with extreme right-wing views.

Cox’s widower Brendan Cox called for action to curb right-wing radicalization.

“When islamists commit acts of terror we rightly hunt down the hate preachers who inspired them,” he tweeted. “We should do the same for the far right.”

Judge Bobbie Cheema-Grubb said she would sentence Osborne on Friday.

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  • Wow, really, and in that order, too, Miss AP Reporter – cause & effect-like? Maybe, say, just 1 3/4 hours “before driving a van into a crowd of worshippers” – this “man … steeped himself in far-right, anti-Muslim ideas”?! I better not be in any “crowd” of Muslims tomorrow, then, nor for the rest of my life after tomorrow. For who knows how many a “man … steep[ing] himself in far-right, anti-Muslim ideas” are out there right now with “a van” in their garages with my name on it? Believe you me, I’m now certifiably scared.

  • I have little difficulty believing that you are certifiable.

    Do you want to have another go at trying to express whatever you were trying to say? One that has (like, it is said, a good sermon) a start, a finish and as little as possible in between.

  • Translation from Christian word salad to English.
    “As a Christian and all around miserable human being I think that Christian terrorists are lone wolves and don’t adhere to a dangerous ideology.”

  • Not sure that he was motivated by his own religious belief indeed – not sure that he had any (most people in UK don’t)
    “The judge said he attacked innocent people, but his particular choice to target a group wearing traditional Islamic dress reflected his “ideology of hate towards Muslims””
    “Sentencing Osborne, the judge said he had become “rapidly radicalised over the internet, encountering and consuming material put out … from those determined to spread hatred of Muslims on the basis of their religion” in the weeks prior to the attack.”
    “His trial heard he regularly read material from the former EDL leader Tommy Robinson and the far-right group Britain First, among others. “Over the space of a month or so, your mindset became one of malevolent hatred. You allowed your mind to be poisoned by those who claim to be leaders,””


    “Woolwich Crown Court heard that Osborne has a criminal history spanning 30 years, which could not previously be disclosed because it could prejudice the jury.
    Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC said he had appeared in court for 33 times for 102 offences dating back to when he was just 15 years old.
    He has served multiple prison sentences for crimes including assault and has also been convicted of drug possession, burglary, theft, fraud, vehicle crime and public order offences”

    Worth adding

    “She [the judge] contrasted that with the actions of a local imam, Mohammed Mahmoud, who exhorted the crowd of mainly Muslim men not to hurt Osborne and to deliver him up to face justice.
    “This was a demonstration of true leadership. His behaviour throws into sharp relief the bile spewed out online from those who aspire to lead the haters,” Cheema-Grubb said.
    “Not because his exhortation to desist from punishing the perpetrator was remarkable but because he had the strength of character to do the right thing under pressure. He chose to respond to evil with good.
    “His response should be everyone’s response, whether it is to the evil of child grooming and abuse in Rochdale or the evil of terrorist atrocities in our cities.””