Brother of Manchester Arena bomber found guilty of 22 counts of murder

Hashem Abedi, the brother of the Manchester Arena bomber, has been found guilty of 22 counts of murder by a jury at the Old Bailey.

Manchester-born Hashem, 22, was also convicted of one count of attempted murder encompassing the remaining injured, and one count of conspiring with his brother Salman Abedi to cause explosions. He had denied the charges.

It was Salman, then-aged 22, who set off a suicide bomb as thousands of men, women and children left an Ariana Grande pop concert at Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017.

A total of 22 victims aged between eight and 51 were killed in the blast, as thousands of pieces of shrapnel pelted the bodies of innocent bystanders, many of whom were standing at close range and were swiftly knocked unconscious.

22 people lost their lives in the attack on the Manchester Arena

VIDEO: reaction from June Tron, who lost her son in the attack:

The court heard the Abedis targeted their network of friends in Manchester's Libyan community to help buy chemicals from Amazon, delivered to a variety of homes across the city, and stockpiled at safehouses.

The brothers constantly swapped between 11 different mobile phones in five months - some in play for as little as two hours - and used a variety of runaround vehicles, despite neither passing their driving test, to transport components around the city, the court was told.

Prosecutors said the brothers' plans were briefly scuppered when their parents insisted they join them in returning to Libya in April 2017, forcing the brothers to stockpile their murderous wares in a second-hand Nissan Micra, bought for £250 the day before they left the UK.

Salman spent less than a month in Libya before flying back to the UK, where he bought a rucksack, more shrapnel, and constructed his bomb in a one-bedroom short-term let in central Manchester.

Four days after arriving in the UK, he detonated the bomb.

The bomb went off as thousands of men, women and children left an Ariana Grande pop concert.

VIDEO: Background report on the case from Sarah Rogers:

Hashem was arrested in Libya less than 48 hours later.

Prosecutors said he was inextricably linked by DNA and fingerprint evidence, data from a slew of mobile phones, eye witness accounts and CCTV footage.

Hashem Abedi has not been present in court, having sacked his defence team and "withdrawing" from the trial last week, without taking to the witness box.

However, the court was read sections of a prepared statement given by Abedi to police upon his extradition to the UK last summer, during which he denied any knowledge of the plot, saying he "would have reported it to my mother initially and then to other family members to prevent it from happening".