Manchester Arena attack victims' families react to Abedi sentencing

Heartbroken, the families of victims from our region who were killed at an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017, spoke outside the Old Bailey and thanked the judge for "the biggest sentence ever".

Hashem Abedi has been sentenced to a minimum of 55 years in jail for the murder of 22 people in the Manchester Arena bombing.

Abedi refused to attend the courtroom to face his verdict, as judge Mr Justice Jeremy Baker handed him 24 life sentences for organising the Manchester Arena bomb plot - adding he "may never be released."

Hashem Abedi has been jailed for the Manchester Arena bombing Credit: Greater Manchester Police / PA

The 23-year-old who was born and raised in Manchester, was accused of showing “contempt” to the families of those he and his suicide bomber brother Salman Abedi killed more than three years earlier by not coming into the dock.

Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry

Outside court, the parents of childhood sweethearts Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry from South Shields, read a joint statement, thanking their legal team and praising the judge.

"We would like to thank Mr Barraclough, DCI Teresa Lam, all at GMP and Counter-Terrorism North West, our legal team Mr Penny and Ms Ledward, the CPS team who have worked tirelessly alongside GMP from the start for all the hard work and perseverance in bringing this to trial.

We would like to thank the jury for the guilty verdict and Judge Baker for his constant direction. The amount of work behind the scenes with the sequence of events, fingerprinting, call logs etc to ensure everyone had a full picture of just how involved he was has been so helpful and informative.

The attention to detail has made sure we got the guilty verdict that was so deserved for Chloe and Liam and the other 20 Angels.For us, as the families of Chloe and Liam, no sentence will ever reflect the loss we feel. Even a full life sentence wouldn’t have been enough because at the end of the day he won’t really be serving a sentence, we are."

The day before sentencing, Liam Curry's mother Caroline stood up at the Old Bailey to address her son's killer, despite mass murderer Abedi refusing to enter the court to face the families of his victims.

Mrs Curry held up a photo of her son and said, "You took from me something more precious than gold, a beautiful boy, inside and out."

She claimed that Liam, a university student, "became a man overnight" looking after the rest of his family but now his ashes are alongside his father's, who died shortly before the attack.

A year after the tragedy, Chloe and Liam's parents spoke to ITV Tyne Tees' Correspondent Rachel Bullock. They said that life without them will never be the same again.

Courtney Boyle and Philip Tron died in the Manchester Arena attack in 2017 Credit: Family photo

The mother of Gateshead man Philip Tron told ITV News she finally feels she has "some justice" for her son.

June Tron joined families and survivors of the blast in Newcastle Crown Court, where proceedings were relayed from the Old Bailey by live feed. Gasps filled the court as Abedi was sentenced.

Philip Tron, 32, who was a water conservation engineer, went to the arena to pick up his partner's daughter, 19-year-old Courtney Boyle who had been at the Ariana Grande concert.

Our reporter Amy Lea spoke to June after today's hearing.

A year after the attack, June told ITV News that every Monday at 10.31pm - the time the Manchester Arena bomb was detonated - she writes a Facebook post to her son, updating him on everything that has gone on in the world he left behind.

Before sentencing Abedi, the judge paid tribute to the "tremendous dignity and courage" demonstrated by the families of the victims who attended court.

Mr Baker said the 1,024 days Abedi spent remanded in custody will count towards the overall sentence.

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