A jury trying the man accused of the Finsbury Park terror attack has been warned not to become “distracted” by the defendant’s views as it retires to consider its verdicts.
Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb told jurors, who retired just before 3pm on Thursday, they must try Darren Osborne based on his alleged “criminal conduct rather than personal beliefs”.
The 48-year-old, of Glyn Rhosyn in Cardiff, denies murder and attempted murder after allegedly ploughing a hire van into a group of worshippers in Finsbury Park, resulting in the death of Makram Ali, 51.
She said regardless of whether, as individuals, they were attracted or repulsed by the opinions he had expressed, they should try his case on nothing but the evidence.
Taking to the stand earlier this week, the defendant told Woolwich Crown Court he wanted to kill Muslims and Labour politicians to highlight what he considered to be an inadequate response to child grooming gangs and other acts of terror.
A forensic tent stands next to a van in Finsbury Park, north London (Victoria Jones/PA)
He claims to have plotted with two men called Terry and Dave to “plough through as many” people as possible at a pro-Palestinian march, before abandoning the idea and travelling to Finsbury Park for a drink in a pub.
Osborne said Dave had jumped into the van under the railway bridge along Seven Sisters Road and got in the footwell, before switching with him, but denies knowing Dave was going to drive into pedestrians.
But prosecutors said there was no evidence of more than one person in the van, and dismissed his eleventh hour defence as “nonsense”.
Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said if jurors found Osborne guilty, it must be because they were convinced he had committed a crime – “not because he is intolerant, bigoted and likely to upset others with his views”.
She said: “Maybe some of you find these views repugnant. But you will not try this case on these feelings but on the evidence.”
But she added: “There is no defence for the murder of a Muslim on the basis that some Muslims have carried out child abuse or acts of terror.”
Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb also explained why Osborne was not facing terror charges, saying “Murder is murder”, whatever the motivation.
She said: “Accordingly terrorist intent is not an ingredient of the offences charged and you do not need to consider terrorism legislation.”