NEWS
24/01/2018 16:11 GMT

Finsbury Park Mosque: Van Driver Was Smiling During Alleged Terror Attack, Court Hears

'He was constantly smiling.'

PA Wire/PA Images
A court sketch of Darren Osborne, right, who is accused of murder and attempted murder after allegedly driving a van into worshippers at Finsbury Park Mosque

A man accused of carrying out a terror attack at Finsbury Park did not stop smiling after ploughing a van into worshippers, a court has heard.

Darren Osborne, of Glyn Rhosyn in Cardiff, deliberately mowed down Muslims outside two mosques in north London shortly after 12.15am on June 19 last year, prosecutors have alleged.

Witnesses saw the white vehicle accelerating as it approached the group, leaving them “splattered all over the place” and killing one, the jury at Woolwich Crown Court heard on Wednesday. 

Ibrahim Benaounda, who was one of those struck, described the impact as like being “on a rollercoaster” and said he could feel his bones breaking as he spun in the air.

PA
The van allegedly driven by Darren Osborne, seen outside the Finsbury Park Mosque

Minutes earlier, Makram Ali, 51, had fallen to the floor, prompting bystanders to rush to his aid.

Adnan Mohamud, who called 999 following Ali’s collapse, said he would never forget the face of the “constantly smiling” van driver after he was wrestled to the ground following the collision.

In a statement read to court, the 28-year-old said: “Whilst this male was on the floor, I remember him saying ‘I have done my job, you can kill me now’. He was smiling as he said it.”

He added: “Something I will never forget was that he was constantly smiling.

“I knew at this point that what he did was not an accident – it was definitely deliberate.”

Osborne denies the murder of Ali and attempted murder of “persons at the junction of Seven Sisters Road and Whadcoat Street, London”.

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Makram Ali died in the incident on June 19 last year

Mohammed Geedi, 28, said he saw and heard the white van speeding up and the noise of gears changing as it turned into Whadcoat Street.

He told the court: “I see the big white van, I can see the headlights … I can hear a rev.”

From the noise of the engine he said he could hear the driver “from gear one accelerating, holding the clutch and changing into gear two” to “pick up the pace”.

Describing the scene after the impact, he said: “I looked at a lot of people just splattered all over the place.”

Witness Mahad Mohamed Ismail said it seemed as if the driver’s foot was “flat” on the pedal as the vehicle moved towards the crowd.

He said: “It was revving its engine as it ran into the people.”

Hamdi Alfaiq, who was left with “life-changing” injuries after being knocked unconscious, was dragged underneath the van after being struck.

The 38-year-old, who walked into court using a crutch, had been offering Ali a drink of water before he “felt something hit me… very strong”, he said, gesturing at his face.

He told the jury: “They pulled me out but I don’t remember anything from when I was underneath.”

Benaounda, who was also hit, said: “When it hit me it felt like being on a rollercoaster, and spinning round and round. I could feel everything. I could feel my bones breaking.”

He had been supporting Ali’s head as he lay injured in the moments beforehand.

Benaounda said in his statement: “He (Mr Ali) stated to me that he just wanted to go home and attempted to get up.”

Waleed Salim, Alfaiq’s cousin, said he thought Ali, who was “panting” but conscious, “would have been fine if the ambulance had arrived before what happened next”.