The Woolwich Crown Court sentenced a man who drove into a crowd of Muslims near a North London mosque to life in prison on February 1. The attack, which occurred on June 19, 2017, injured several and left one man dead.
The court convicted Darren Osborne of manslaughter for the murder of Makram Ali, sentencing him to a minimum term of 43 years behind bars.
Justice Bobbie Cheema-Grubb, overseeing the trial, consistently clarified Osborne’s actions as acts of “terrorism” and directly accused the defendant of having “intended to kill.”
The attack was just one in a string of incidents that marked a tumultuous year for the British capital. Other attacks include the earlier March 2017 Westminster attack, in which Khalid Masood drove a car into civilians on Westminster Bridge, killing four. Another attack occurred in June 2017 when three occupants drove a van into pedestrian crowds on London Bridge before creating chaos in Borough Market by stabbing passersby, killing eight. The police treated both attacks as acts of radical Islamic terrorism.
During the sentencing, Cheema-Grubb accused Osborne of having been “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,” further adding that his “use of Twitter exposed [him]to racists and anti-Islamic ideology.” Shortly after the attack, police discovered a letter written by Osborne referring to Muslims as “feral” and accusing Muslim men of “preying on our children.”
During the trial, members of Ali’s family expressed remorse over the death of “such a peaceful and simple man.” Ali’s daughter, Ruzina Akhtar, further commented that her “father was the most sincere and warmest person [she ever knew]. He was full of jokes and laughter and full of love for his family and grandchildren.” Prosecutors also mentioned the devastating long-term effects of the attacks, with witnesses and family members suffering “feelings of anxiety, flashbacks, fear of going out, and loss of confidence.”
Government officials were quick to comment on the verdict. Responding to the sentence, Home Secretary Amber Rudd conveyed her hopes that Osborne’s conviction for a “horrific terrorist attack” would result in “some solace to his family and those injured.” Furthermore, Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police counterterrorism team, said that Osborne had carried out an “evil and cowardly attack,” emphasizing his desire to “pay tribute to Ali’s family and the local community in Finsbury Park, for their tremendous support and understanding with our investigation during what must have been an extremely difficult time for them.”