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Finsbury Park ‘attacker’ says he was not driving van

Darren Osborne, 48, is accused of killing Makram Ali, 51, and injuring several others after he mounted the pavement with a van he hired outside the mosque in north London, on June 19 last year

The alleged Finsbury Park attacker claims a man called Dave he had met in the pub drove the van which killed one and injured others

Darren Osborne, 48, is accused of killing Makram Ali, 51, and injuring several others after he mounted the pavement with a van he hired outside the mosque in north London, on June 19 last year.

But taking to the witness stand at Woolwich Crown Court for the first time today he said he was not the driver. 

Asked whether he was driving the van, Osborne replied: ‘No.’ Asked who was, he replied: ‘A guy called Dave.’

He said he met Dave and a Terry Jones in the Pick and Shovel pub in Treforest. He said the three of them would meet in the pub or go for walks and that they would discuss their political views. 

Defence barrister Lisa Wilding QC said to Osborne: ‘Were you the driver of the van?’ Osborne replied: ‘No.’

Ms Wilding said: ‘Did you know who was the driver of the van?’ The defendant said: ‘A guy called Dave.’

Ms Wilding said: ‘Do you know Dave’s other name?’ Osborne said: ‘No I do not.’

The defendant said he knew Dave and had met him in a pub in early April or March last year.

Osborne told the court that he had also met a man called Terry Jones, and that the three of them would discuss their social and political views.

He said the trio had originally planned to go to Rochdale, referring to a Labour politician who he said had backed one of the members of the grooming gang.

‘That was our intended target,’ he said. Asked if this plan had been put into effect, he said: ‘Unfortunately not.’

Osborne said the intention when hiring the van was to go to the Al Quds march in London, due to end in Grosvenor Square, where Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn was expected to be in attendance.

He said he had made contact with Dave and Terry using an old Nokia phone, which he did not believe police had recovered.

Ms Wilding said: ‘Where did you first see Terry and Dave that day?’ He replied: ‘At Grosvenor Square.’

But taking to the witness stand at Woolwich Crown Court for the first time today Osborne said he was not the driver. Pictured is a court sketch of Osborne in court today

But taking to the witness stand at Woolwich Crown Court for the first time today Osborne said he was not the driver. Pictured is a court sketch of Osborne in court today

Osborne said he was in contact with Terry and Dave as he travelled through London but they were not in the vehicle

Osborne said he was in contact with Terry and Dave as he travelled through London but they were not in the vehicle

He added that ‘road blocks’ had stopped them from going near the march, adding that it had ‘thwarted their plans’.

Osborne said he was in contact with Terry and Dave as he travelled through London but they were not in the vehicle.

Ms Wilding said: ‘How was it that you ended up in the Finsbury Park area?’

Osborne said: ‘It was Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency. That’s what gave us the idea.’ He added that they were looking for the mosque.

Ms Wilding said: ‘Did you know whether Dave or Terry were also going to be in the Finsbury Park area.’ He replied: ‘Yes they were going to meet me there.’

Osborne said the Labour councillor in Rochdale – Aftab Hussain – ‘was and is and will remain a target’.

Mr Rees put to him: ‘The initial plan that you hatched with Dave and Terry was to kill Mr Hussain?’ Osborne replied: ‘Yes.’

This was the scene in Finsbury Park following the incident after 12.15am on June 19 last year

This was the scene in Finsbury Park following the incident after 12.15am on June 19 last year

The prosecutor said: ‘You are essentially admitting, together with Dave and Terry, that you have conspired to murder this man, Mr Hussain?

Osborne replied: ‘This man should not be in office. He is still a sitting MP for Rochdale.’

Asked what got in the way of their initial plan, he replied: ‘We just wanted more casualties.’

‘More people dead if possible?’, asked Mr Rees. ‘Oh yeah,’ he replied.

Referring to the Al Quds march, Mr Rees said: ‘Were you hoping that you would have an opportunity to attack Jeremy Corbyn and kill him?’

Osborne replied: ‘Oh yeah.’

After a pause, he added: ‘It would be one less terrorist off our streets.’

He added it would have been ‘even better’ if London Mayor Sadiq Khan had been at the march.

Osborne told the court: ‘It would have been like winning the lottery.’   

Asked if he had had contact with Terry and Dave after the attack, Osborne told the court: ‘We had… we were planning to form a group, like the Welsh far-right group. We were going to call ourselves the “Taffia”.’   

Osborne said he was in the footwell of the passenger seat of the van removing his trousers before the collision took place.

He could give no explanation why the figure seen fleeing the vehicle at the scene had left out of the driver’s side door. 

Darren Osborne (court sketch), 48, is accused of killing Makram Ali and injuring several others after he mounted the pavement with a van he hired near a mosque in Finsbury Park 

Darren Osborne (court sketch), 48, is accused of killing Makram Ali and injuring several others after he mounted the pavement with a van he hired near a mosque in Finsbury Park 

Prosecutors introduced evidence at Woolwich Crown Court about whether others were involved, before closing their case.

Jonathan Rees QC, prosecuting, said: ‘We are continuing to call evidence directed towards the issue as to whether or not the defendant was acting together with others carrying out this attack, and the associated issue of who was driving the van at the time.’

Excerpts of an urgent interview, carried out by Det Con Paul Dring while Osborne was under armed guard in University College Hospital after the incident, were read to the court.

DC Dring asked: ‘Just in terms of what’s happened today, is there anyone else involved?’ To which Osborne replied: ‘No.’

DC Dring concluded by asking: ‘Finally from me, is there anything at all that you know about that could harm anyone?’

Osborne answered ‘no’, adding: ‘I’m flying solo mate.’

Body worn footage of Osborne in a police van after the arrest was also played to the jury.

In the clip, Osborne said: ‘I lost control of the van. Lost control man.’

PC David Jones asked him, ‘were you driving were you?’, to which Osborne replied ‘yeah’.

The officer then asked: ‘Have you had a drink?’ To which Osborne replied: ‘I have had a couple of pints, yeah.’

In a statement, Ibrahim Ikar said: ‘The van proceeded to speed towards the group standing around the man on the floor and crashed straight into them, scattering them to all sides.

‘Suddenly a man jumped out of the van and tried to run off. He was stopped by the people in the street and was held until police arrived.

Makram Ali, who was killed in the incident last year

Makram Ali, who was killed in the incident last year

‘The man who jumped out of the van was the driver. I didn’t see anyone else come out of the van.’

Abdul Matin Chowdhury said in a statement: ‘Makram was a very quiet and honourable man, and my son calls him an uncle.

‘I saw Makram slip and fall down in the middle of the road. I went to try and catch him but I was on crutches myself.

‘Suddenly I was hit from behind by what I now know was a white van..’

He said it ‘went right over’ Mr Ali, adding: ‘I was thrown back into the rest of the crowd.

‘I saw a white male get out of the cab of the vehicle.

‘The white male got out of the van itself and then started to run towards the gated area. I shouted to people that he was fleeing, and everyone was saying catch him.

‘He didn’t get far as there was a gate and fence. Some of the people were able to apprehend him.

‘I heard the man shout, ‘I will kill all Muslims’. I heard him say this two or three times.

‘At one point the man grabbed the trousers of another man in Islamic dress and said, ‘I want to kill you’.’

Mr Chowdhury said he was ‘certain’ the man who got out of the driver’s seat was the same man police put in the back of the van.

He added: ‘I have seen his face on television numerous times since and I can be sure this man was the driver.’

Robert Goldring, a financial investigator for the Metropolitan Police, said there were ‘no obvious payments or credits’ to anyone called Dave or David, Terry or Terence Jones.

Osborne, of Cardiff, Wales, denies murder and attempted murder.

The trial continues. 

‘Attacker’ ranted in pub in Cardiff before leaving for London, jury told 

The court heard Osborne spoke loudly about terrorism and Muslims at the Hollybush Pub in Pentwyn, near Cardiff, on the evening of June 17, the day before he allegedly travelled to London.

Soldier Callum Spence said Osborne made comments including ‘Muslims are all terrorists’, ‘I’m going to kill all Muslims’ and that he would ‘take it into his own hands’.

Mr Spence, a Royal Engineer, told the court: ‘He was pretty mumbling, but I heard him saying ‘all our families are going to be Muslim. They are all going to be terrorists’. Things like that.’

Woolwich Crown Court heard Darren Osborne ranted about Muslims in this Cardiff pub

Woolwich Crown Court heard Darren Osborne ranted about Muslims in this Cardiff pub

The defendant also claimed to be a soldier but did not know the phonetic alphabet used by the military, and was ‘flinging his arms around’, Mr Spence added.

In a statement read to the jury, Angelo Lamberti, assistant manager of the pub, said Osborne was asked by Mr Spence what regiment he belonged to.

He said: ‘I heard the odd male tell the soldier that he was also a soldier. The soldier asked him what regiment he was in, to which he replied, ‘you will find out tomorrow’.’

Osborne, who was asked to leave the Hollybush, is also said to have written a letter to Parliament while at the pub and to have told a member of staff, ‘there is a lot of raping and pillaging out there’.

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