Manchester Arena bomb plotter refuses to face families as they speak of 'world of chaos'

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

The families of the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing have spoken of being thrown into a "world of chaos" but vowed “evil will never win”, as the homegrown terrorist behind the plot refused to face them.

Hasham Abedi, younger brother of suicide bomber Salman Abedi, had been brought to the court building from prison, but refused to enter the courtroom.

Judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, added he was powerless to drag him into court.

The 23-year-old will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Thursday for 22 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder encompassing the survivors, and plotting to cause an explosion likely to endanger life following his conviction by jurors in March.

It was left to family members of the 22 killed and dozens injured in the blast on May 22 2017 to describe how the Abedi brothers’ actions affected their lives.

Salman Abedi (left) and Hashem Abedi (right).

Harriet Taylor paid tribute to her mother, Jane Tweddle, 51, a school receptionist who lived in Blackpool.

She said in a statement: “We simply will not let evil win. Evil is invisible, it has no face, no heart, no race. But what we have that evil never will have is love.”

Jane Carolyn Tweddle (second from right) and her daughters, Harriet Taylor, Lily Taylor, Isabelle Taylor.

The mothers of teenage sweethearts Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry told of their devastation.

Caroline Curry held up a photo of her son Liam Curry, 19, who died with his girlfriend Chloe Rutherford.

As she spoke through her tears, Mrs Curry appeared to address some of her comments to Abedi, who was absent from the court.

She said: “You took from me something more precious than gold, a beautiful boy, inside and out.

“I want you to look at Liam and remember the beautiful boy that was snatched away.

“Your actions have caused this heartbreak. I just feel cheated. You took his future, my future, my family’s future.

“All we have now is heartbreak and dreams of what if.”

Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry.

Lisa Rutherford said: “As a family we need answers – we are destroyed.”

Ms Rutherford, who was supporting herself on crutches as she read her statement, said her “heart snapped” when she received a telephone call with the news that her 17-year-old daughter had died.

Survivor Claire Booth broke down in tears as she read her victim personal statement. Her sister, Kelly Brewster, 32, from Sheffield, died in the blast.

“Since May 22, 2017, our family has not been the same – all our hearts are broken and will not be the same," Ms Booth said.

“It seems cruel that her life has been cut short.

“My dad has not been able to walk his daughter down the aisle, my mum can’t take her shopping for a wedding dress.

“We will never see her grow old.

“As a family, we have been thrown into a world of chaos.”

Kelly Brewster died in the Manchester arena terror attack.

Figen Murray, mother of Martyn Hett, a 29-year-old public relations manager who lived in Stockport, described her son as a talented performer who revelled in the spotlight.

He was a Coronation Street superfan, she said, and a proud member of the gay community.

But she also described how she is now unable to go to bed until after 10.31pm, the time the bomb went off.

She said: “I still cannot reconcile that I was fast asleep while my son lay dead on the floor, and I am ashamed about that.”

Martyn Hett, 29, was one of 22 people killed in a suicide bomb attack.

Samantha Leczkowski, mother of Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, from Leeds, said her daughter’s “senseless death” has “devastated us all”.

She said in a statement: “Sorrell’s bedroom has been untouched since (the blast) – I cannot bring myself to alter Sorrell’s room. I find comfort from sitting in Sorrell’s bedroom and talking.

“Losing one of my children has killed me – I may as well be dead.”

Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, died in the Manchester Arena terror attack.

The Old Bailey heard that Abedi helped his brother order, collect and store materials needed for the plot, before the latter blew himself up as thousands of men, women and children left an Ariana Grande concert.

The defendant, who travelled to Libya the month before the bombing, was arrested hours after the attack and was extradited back to Britain last summer.

He initially told police he wanted to co-operate to prove his innocence, but he absented himself from much of his trial and sacked his legal team.

It meant grieving families and survivors have not heard from the man police believe may have masterminded the plot.

The court heard Abedi would have been eligible for a whole-life sentence had he been over the age of 21 at the time of the Manchester Arena bombing.

However, he could be given multiple life sentences with a minimum starting point of 30 years.

During the trial, prosecutor Duncan Penny QC said Hashem Abedi was “just as guilty” as the bomber who killed 22 men, women and children aged between eight and 51.

A public inquiry into the bombing is scheduled to start next month.