Finsbury Park attacker Darren Osborne: What led him to kill?

Described as “a loner” and “a functioning alcoholic”, Darren Osborne was a troubled man.

He’d described himself as “worthless” and had threatened suicide more than once. He hadn’t worked for ten years and was sleeping on the sofa of his partner’s house in the Pentwyn area of Cardiff.

For all his problems, though, he’d never been thought to be a racist.

But, just over a month before he launched his fatal attack in Finsbury Park, that changed.

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The trigger - so the court was told - a television drama about the Rochdale child sex abuse scandal.

In a statement, Osborne’s partner Sarah Andrews described how the pair had watched the BBC drama together. It had made them both feel “angry”, she said.

But for Osborne, it was the start of an obsession.

Police believe these feelings were further fuelled by far-right material, with devices found at Osborne's family home revealing multiple searches for English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson and Britain First's Jayda Fransen.

Commander Dean Haydon, of the Metropolitan Police, declined to call EDL's Mr Robinson a "radicaliser", but said: "There is material out there linked to some of the groups connected to him that quite clearly has been an influencer in this case."

It is believed it took just three to four weeks for Osborne to develop extreme views and decide to hire a van, which Mr Haydon said demonstrated "that individuals can become radicalised really, really quickly".

By June 16th, Osborne had decided to, as he later put it, “take matters into my hands.” He phoned a a vehicle hire company in nearby Pontyclun and asked to rent a three and a half ton Luton box van.

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Credit: Metropolitan Police

The next day, he went to the company offices to collect the van, handing over £170.00 for two day’s use. The receptionist on duty described him as “polite and well-mannered.”

Later that evening, Osborne visited his local pub in Cardiff. He seemed ‘agitated and disturbed’, the landlord recalled.

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One local claimed he’d heard Osborne say “all muslims are terrorists.” Later, he claimed falsely to be in the army. CCTV pictures show Osborne writing a note in the pub - a note, said police, that was later found in the van which declared a "hatred" towards Muslims.

The next morning, he set off for London, arriving by mid morning.

It seems Osborne’s original target was the Al Quds march organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission. He later told the jury that he’d thought labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would be present. Asked if he’d hoped to kill Mr Corbyn, he said “Oh yeah. It would be one less terrorist off our streets. If [London Mayor] Sadiq Khan had been there it would have been even better. It would have been like winning the lottery."

Osborne asked for directions to Grosvenor Square, where the march was due to finish, but it seems could not get close enough. Later, he stopped to ask for directions to ‘the nearest mosque.’ By 11:30pm, he was in the Finsbury Park area.

It was Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, and like many others, Makram Ali had been at prayers.

Makram Ali died from multiple injuries following the incident

The 51 year old, who suffered with heart disease and used a walking stick, was making his way home when he collapsed on Seven Sisters Road.

A crowd of people, many wearing traditional Islamic dress, stopped to help. The court heard how Mr Ali was awake and responsive. “I just want to go home”, one witness recalled him saying.

Shortly after midnight, Osborne spotted the group gathered around Makram Ali. He had, in the words of the prosecution, “found his target.” Witnesses later recalled the sound of the van’s engine being revved as it accelerated towards the group.

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The impact can be heard on a 999 call that a bystander had made to report Makram Ali’s collapse. “A lot of people have died’”, reported the caller, Adnan Mohamud.

In fact - perhaps miraculously - most of those struck survived the attack, although some were left with ‘life- changing injuries.’ Ibrahim Benaounda, 23, who suffered fractures to his ribs, spine and pelvis, remembered “spinning round and round” like he was on a rollercoaster. “I could feel everything. I could feel my bones breaking”, he told the court.

Makram Ali, who was driven over by the van, died at the scene. A pathologist later described his injuries as “catastrophic.”

At first, Osborne tried to flee on foot. But he was restrained and held by the group. Some bystanders were angry and threw punches, but the Imam from the mosque told them to let the police deal with him.

Osborne was unrepentant, ‘smiling’ and seen waving from the back of the police van. He was heard saying “I’ve done my bit” and later told officers, “at least I had a proper go”.

One radicalisation expert, Abdul Azim-Ahmed, who works for the EYST project - Ethnic Youth Support Team - said Osborne's radicalisation didn't just come from far-right groups.

"It also came from mainstream media", he told ITV News. "It came from mainstream politicians both here and abroad. He did what for him was a rational course of action."

Later, in court, he changed the story. He claimed a "guy called Dave" who he’d met in a pub a few months earlier had got into the van in Finsbury Park and was at the wheel when it struck the group.

He also told the jury that he, ‘Dave’, and another man named Terry Jones had plotted to form a Welsh far right group which, he said, they’d wanted to call ‘The Taffia.’ Police couldn’t find any trace of either man.

Darren Osborne will be sentenced on Friday after being found guilty of murder and attempted murder. Despite never being charged with a terrorism offence, the prosecution said his act indeed amounted to ‘an act of terrorism.’

Anyone in Finsbury Park that night last June, and in the Muslim community more widely, would surely agree.