Mosque attack suspect 'troubled', says his family

Darren Osborne's sister, mother and nephew said he was a man with problems, and that his action was "sheer madness".
Darren Osborne's sister, mother and nephew said he was a man with problems, and that his action was "sheer madness".

LONDON • The 47-year-old man accused of driving a van into a crowd of Muslim worshippers leaving a north London mosque was "troubled", according to his family, while those who know him described a man who verbally abused Muslim children.

Darren Osborne, a father of four from Cardiff, in Wales, was arrested after the attack near Finsbury Park Mosque early on Monday and is being questioned by police on suspicion of attempted murder and terrorism.

According to witnesses, he was shouting he wanted to "kill all Muslims" before police took him away. Neighbours said he had been thrown out of his local pub in a Cardiff suburb on Saturday for drunkenly insulting Muslims.

"He was cursing Muslims and saying he would do some damage," according to a regular patron quoted by The Sun.

Ms Khadijeh Sherizi said she never had any problems with her neighbour until last weekend, when he insulted her children.

Her son Nadeem, 12, was quoted in The Guardian as saying: "I was on my bike and he just came up to me and said 'inbred'." His sister Nadia, 10, said she and her grandmother had heard Osborne using the same word.

Other neighbours said Osborne's behaviour had become erratic in recent weeks, and that he was living in a tent in the woods after splitting up with his long-term partner.

"Around two weeks ago, I saw him, and he was a right state," Mr Peter Mackuin, 53, told The Sun. "His missus had been out looking for him. I saw him wandering out of the woods."

Ms Sherizi told of her shock when she recognised the suspect, saying: "I saw him on the news, and I thought, oh my god, that is my neighbour. He has been so normal. He was in his kitchen yesterday afternoon singing with his kids."

His mother Christine, 72, said she screamed when she saw her son in television footage.

"My son is no terrorist - he is just a man with problems," The Sun quoted her as saying.

In a statement on behalf of the family, his nephew Ellis Osborne, 26, said: "We are massively shocked. Our hearts go out to the people who have been injured."

His uncle was "not a racist", he said, adding: "It is madness. It is obviously sheer madness."

Ms Nicola Osborne said her brother had shown no interest in politics, telling The Sun: "He wouldn't even know who the prime minister was."

Some neighbours described a normal but loud character.

"I have lived here for five years. He was already living here when I moved in," said Ms Saleem Naema, 50. "If I ever needed anything, he would come. I just can't believe that he did that. I am a Muslim."

But others described a man who attracted trouble.

"He is... always shouting at his wife and kids," pharmacist Rebecca Carpenter told The Times.

Osborne is believed to have moved to Wales from Weston- Super-Mare in west England. Locals there told the Times that he had left "because he was too much trouble", frequently getting into pub fights.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2017, with the headline 'Mosque attack suspect 'troubled', says his family'. Print Edition | Subscribe