A driver accused of mowing down Muslim worshippers outside the Finsbury Park Mosque claims he was working with an accomplice who ‘vanished like the illusionist Dynamo’.
Darren Osborne is alleged to have killed grandfather Makram Ali, 51, and injured several others when he ploughed into them in a hire van in north London on June 19 last year.
He claims he was not driving at the time and a man called ‘Dave’ was at the wheel while he was in the footwell, Woolwich Crown Court heard today.
The 48-year-old from Glyn Rhosyn in Cardiff, told jurors he had plotted with two men called Terry and Dave to ‘plough through as many’ people as possible at a pro-Palestinian march in central London the day before.
Darren Osborne (left) is alleged to have killed grandfather Makram Ali, 51, (right) and injured several others when he ploughed into them in a hire van in north London on June 19 last year
Osborne claims he was not driving this hire van at the time and a man called ‘Dave’ was at the wheel while he was in the footwell
After this plan was thwarted, the three then planned to meet up in the Finsbury Park area for a drink, he claimed during cross-examination on the eighth day of his trial.
Osborne agreed that the man driving the van as it made a U-turn before the attack looked like him on CCTV, but that on the way back along Seven Sisters Road, under the railway bridge, ‘Dave had jumped in the van and got in the footwell, before switching with him’.
He said he had not been able to identify from the CCTV images played to the court the point at which Dave had got in, saying it was ‘sod’s law’ that the cameras had not picked it up.
The court has previously been told that cameras covered the whole of his journey except for a period of four seconds.
Osborne was asked by Jonathan Rees QC how he could explain why he was the only person seen on CCTV getting out of the van after the collision.
Mr Rees said: ‘And Dave may be a funny fella, but he is not a magician is he?’
Osborne replied: ‘He’s like Dynamo, an illusion. An illusionist. He can make himself vanish perhaps. I don’t know.’
Mr Rees said: ‘All this business about first Dave hiding himself down and then you a little later, all this is all made up isn’t it?
‘No it’s not,’ Osborne countered.
Osborne (seen in an earlier court sketch) was asked by Jonathan Rees QC how he could explain why he was the only person seen on CCTV getting out of the van after the collision
Osborne, as seen on a body worn camera following his arrest, claims he was not driving the van
Jonathan Rees QC asked Osborne why, when the plan to target the Al Quds March did not come off, he said he had been planning to go for a drink with Terry and Dave rather than take some sort of action.
Osborne replied: ‘Dave said ‘it’s potato, potato’.
He added: ‘Potato, potato, tomato, tomato, let’s call the whole thing off.’
‘What did you understand him to mean by that?’ asked Mr Rees.
Osborne replied: ‘That there wasn’t going to be any protests or any attacks.
‘There wasn’t going to be a sufficient target. I wasn’t interested just in getting one or two, if I was going to do it I was going to do it proper, cause as much damage as possible.’
Mr Rees referred to footage of Osborne in the back of a police van after the collision from a body worn camera belonging to PC David Jones, in which the defendant appears to say he ‘lost control’ of the van.
Asked why he had said that if he was not driving the van, Osborne replied: ‘I have no explanation for that.’
Mr Rees said: ‘Initially when you were put in the van you were trying to save yourself by putting forward this suggestion that you had lost control because the truth is there’s a bit of a coward about you isn’t there Mr Osborne?’
There was no answer in reply.
Osborne described comments he made after the collision as ‘rambling’.
Mr Rees said: ‘You are not going to suggest are you that those are the ramblings of a mad man?’
Osborne said: ‘No. I would not suggest I was mad. Angry.’
Mr Rees said the defence team had submitted no evidence regarding his mental health which may assist his case.
Osborne replied: ‘Correct.’
This was the scene in Finsbury Park following the incident after 12.15am on June 19 last year
Osborne (pictured in a 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
Osborne was also quizzed on why Terry had not been in the van at the time of the collision.
The defendant told the court: ‘Terry had gone to the pub.’
Mr Rees said: ‘To get them in?’
Osborne replied: ‘To get them in.’
Asked why he thought Dave had got into the van, Osborne said: ‘We were going to go park up somewhere and go to the pub and have a chat.’
He denied knowing Dave was planning to plough into pedestrians using the van.
Osborne claimed he joked with Dave about Diane Abbott while they were on their way to meet Terry.
He said while he planned to carry out an attack on the Al Quds march, he felt ’emotionally sapped’ and was not responsible for the act which left Mr Ali dead.
Osborne denies murdering Mr Ali and the attempted murder of people at the junction of Seven Sisters Road and Whadcoat Street, which is close to the mosque.
The trial continues.