British man 'obsessed' with Muslims hit group with van: Court

Darren Osborne, a father of four from Cardiff, in Wales, was arrested after the attack near Finsbury Park Mosque early on June 19, 2017. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

LONDON (AFP) - A British man "obsessed" with Muslims deliberately drove into a group outside a mosque in an act of terrorism intended to kill as many as possible, a court heard Monday (Jan 22).

Darren Osborne is accused of murdering 51-year-old Makram Ali and trying to kill others in the Finsbury Park area of north London on June 19 last year, after growing angry at recent terror attacks and child sexual exploitation scandals involving gangs of mainly Muslim men.

Osborne, 48, from the Welsh capital Cardiff, denies the charges.

Opening the case against him in his trial at Woolwich Crown Court in southeast London, prosecutor Jonathan Rees said he deliberately drove a van at a group of Muslims who had been attending Ramadan prayers at local mosques.

Rees said Osborne was trying to kill "as many of the group as possible".

Osborne had been living with his partner Sarah Andrews and their four children in Cardiff, said Rees.

Andrews said Osborne has an "unpredictable temperament", is a "loner and a functioning alcoholic" and suffers from depression, the prosecutor told the court.

She said Osborne "had become obsessed with Muslims" in the weeks leading up to the incident, Rees recounted.

Rees told jurors that Andrews said the catalyst for his obsession appeared to have been a May 2017 television drama based on the true stories of victims of Rochdale grooming gangs, which comprised men of mainly Pakistani origin.

The terror attacks at the Manchester Arena and London Bridge then seemed to "fuel the rage inside him", Rees said.

'Act of extreme violence'

The prosecutor read out a handwritten note found in the van with Osborne's fingerprints on it.

It complained about "terrorists on our streets" and child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, a separate scandal not featured in the television drama.

"Don't people get it? This is happening up and down our green and pleasant land," Rees said, reading the note, which contained derogatory statements aimed at Muslims.

"Islam's ideology doesn't belong here and neither does sharia law."

Rees told the jury Osborne seemed to feel that "insufficient was being said or done to counter terrorism and the grooming gangs comprising predominantly Muslim males.

"He planned to make a public statement by killing Muslims."

While Osborne has not been charged with a terrorist offence, the prosecution consider that the note and comments he made after his detention "establish that this act of extreme violence was, indeed, an act of terrorism", said Rees.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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