A driver accused of mowing down Muslim worshippers outside the Finsbury Park Mosque claims he was working with an accomplice who ‘vanished like the illusionist Dynamo’.
Darren Osborne is alleged to have killed grandfather Makram Ali, 51, and injured several others when he ploughed into them in a hire van in north London on June 19 last year.
He claims he was not driving at the time and a man called ‘Dave’ was at the wheel while he was in the footwell, Woolwich Crown Court heard today.
The 48-year-old from Glyn Rhosyn in Cardiff, told jurors he had plotted with two men called Terry and Dave to ‘plough through as many’ people as possible at a pro-Palestinian march in central London the day before.
Darren Osborne (left) is alleged to have killed grandfather Makram Ali, 51, (right) and injured several others when he ploughed into them in a hire van in north London on June 19 last year
Osborne (pic in a court sketch today) was asked by Jonathan Rees QC how he could explain why he was the only person seen on CCTV getting out of the van after the collision
After this plan was thwarted, the three then planned to meet up in the Finsbury Park area for a drink, he claimed during cross-examination on the eighth day of his trial.
Osborne agreed that the man driving the van as it made a U-turn before the attack looked like him on CCTV, but that on the way back along Seven Sisters Road, under the railway bridge, ‘Dave had jumped in the van and got in the footwell, before switching with him’.
He said he had not been able to identify from the CCTV images played to the court the point at which Dave had got in, saying it was ‘sod’s law’ that the cameras had not picked it up.
The court has previously been told that cameras covered the whole of his journey except for a period of four seconds.
Osborne was asked by Jonathan Rees QC how he could explain why he was the only person seen on CCTV getting out of the van after the collision.
Mr Rees said: ‘And Dave may be a funny fella, but he is not a magician is he?’
Osborne replied: ‘He’s like Dynamo, an illusion. An illusionist. He can make himself vanish perhaps. I don’t know.’
Mr Rees said: ‘All this business about first Dave hiding himself down and then you a little later, all this is all made up isn’t it?
‘No it’s not,’ Osborne countered.
Osborne claims he was not driving this hire van at the time and a man called ‘Dave’ was at the wheel while he was in the footwell
Osborne (seen in an earlier court sketch) was asked by Jonathan Rees QC how he could explain why he was the only person seen on CCTV getting out of the van after the collision
Osborne, as seen on a body worn camera following his arrest, claims he was not driving the van
Jonathan Rees QC asked Osborne why, when the plan to target the Al Quds March did not come off, he said he had been planning to go for a drink with Terry and Dave rather than take some sort of action.
Osborne replied: ‘Dave said ‘it’s potato, potato’.
He added: ‘Potato, potato, tomato, tomato, let’s call the whole thing off.’
‘What did you understand him to mean by that?’ asked Mr Rees.
Osborne replied: ‘That there wasn’t going to be any protests or any attacks.
‘There wasn’t going to be a sufficient target. I wasn’t interested just in getting one or two, if I was going to do it I was going to do it proper, cause as much damage as possible.’
Mr Rees referred to footage of Osborne in the back of a police van after the collision from a body worn camera belonging to PC David Jones, in which the defendant appears to say he ‘lost control’ of the van.
Asked why he had said that if he was not driving the van, Osborne replied: ‘I have no explanation for that.’
Mr Rees said: ‘Initially when you were put in the van you were trying to save yourself by putting forward this suggestion that you had lost control because the truth is there’s a bit of a coward about you isn’t there Mr Osborne?’
There was no answer in reply. Osborne described comments he made after the collision as ‘rambling’.
Mr Rees said: ‘You are not going to suggest are you that those are the ramblings of a mad man?’
Osborne said: ‘No. I would not suggest I was mad. Angry.’
Mr Rees said the defence team had submitted no evidence regarding his mental health which may assist his case. Osborne replied: ‘Correct.’
This was the scene in Finsbury Park following the incident after 12.15am on June 19 last year
Osborne (pictured in a court sketch), 48, is accused of killing Makram Ali and injuring several others after he mounted the pavement with a van he hired near a mosque in Finsbury Park
Osborne was also quizzed on why Terry had not been in the van at the time of the collision. The defendant told the court: ‘Terry had gone to the pub.’
Asked why he thought Dave had got into the van, Osborne said: ‘We were going to go park up somewhere and go to the pub and have a chat.’
He denied knowing Dave was planning to plough into pedestrians using the van.
Osborne claimed he joked with Dave about Diane Abbott while they were on their way to meet Terry.
He said while he planned to carry out an attack on the Al Quds march, he felt ’emotionally sapped’ and was not responsible for the act which left Mr Ali dead.
Mr Rees told jurors that the motivation for Osborne’s mission was the ‘hatred of all Muslims, which had its roots in material he had watched on television and online’.
He added: ‘We suggest that the defendant has conjured up a defence out of thin air.’
In his closing speech to the jury, prosecutor Jonathan Rees, QC, said: ‘This is a serious and grave case, the public have an interest in it and we all have a responsibility we have to observe.
‘We suggest that the evidence we call does in fact prove that the defendant set off alone on a venture of his own, not acting with so called Terry and Dave, on a mission to kill Muslims.
‘His initial target had been those taking part in Al-Quds Day march but when he was unable to get through he looked to locate a Mosque while driving around Finsbury Park.
‘The defendant ploughed a van into the group seeking to kill as many Muslims as possible. His intention was plainly to kill.
‘What else do you intend if you drive such a van into a crowd of static pedestrians?
‘That is why we say he is guilty of the charge of attempted murder.
‘His viewing of the Three Girls drama, based on the Rochdale grooming gangs, caused the defendant to take against all Muslims.
‘The defendant was heard to say, ‘I want to kill you, I want to kill all Muslims, I have done my job you can kill me now’.
‘The defendant was smiling when he was placed in the van, blowing a kiss to the crowd.
‘When talking about Sadiq Khan, Jeremy Corbyn and Lily Allen, he said: ‘Have some of that mate, have some of your f*****g own’.
‘He said, ‘At least I had a proper go’. The defendant has conjured up the defence out of thin air.
‘You have the frankly abusrd account of the defendant rearranging himself in the passenger foot well. Under caution he accepted that he was acting alone and flying solo.
‘You can be sure that the defendant is lying about Dave getting into and driving the van.
‘Despite all his talk the defendant doesn’t have the courage of these convictions.’
Osborne’s defence barrister Lisa Wilding QC will give her closing speech tomorrow followed by the judge’s summing up with the jury expected to retire later in the day.
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