Finsbury Park accused 'was obsessed with Muslims' after watching Three Girls drama, urt hears

A man accused of carrying out the Finsbury Park attack became ‘obsessed’ with Muslims after watching a BBC drama about the Rochdale grooming scandal, a court heard.

Darren Osborne, 48, allegedly mowed down Makram Ali, 51, and nine other people on a crowded pavement with a van near two mosques in north London shortly after 12.15am on June 19 last year.

Woolwich Crown Court court heard that the defendant’s partner, Sarah Andrews, described him as a ‘loner and a functioning alcoholic’ with an ‘unpredictable temperament’.

Osborne had become ‘obsessed’ with Muslims in the weeks leading up to the incident after watching the BBC drama Three Girls, she said.

Makram Ali (Image: PA)

The harrowing programme was based on the shocking true story of the young victims of the Rochdale child sexual exploitation ring and how they were let down by authorities.

Nine men were convicted in 2012 for their involvement in the sex grooming scheme, which saw vulnerable young girls plied with alcohol and gifts before being passed around for sex.

Osborne is accused of deliberately ploughing into pedestrians they gathered around to administer first aid to Mr Ali, who is believed to have suffered a heart attack.

The defendant is said to have mounted the pavement at around 12.20am.

Mr Ali was crushed beneath the wheels of the hired Citroen van and died at the scene. Police later confirmed he had passed away from ‘multiple injuries’.

At the time of the alleged attack, the area was busy with worshippers from the Muslim Welfare House and Finsbury Park Mosque who had been attending Ramadan night prayers.

Opening the trial prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC told the court: “The prosecution say that the evidence establishes that the defendant was trying to kill as many of the group as possible.

(Image: PA)

“In the event, he killed one person, a 51-year-old man called Makram Ali, and in addition he injured many others, some of them seriously.

“To seek to kill someone merely because of their religion is a terrible thing.

“And what makes this act particularly horrific is that the group he drove into had gathered in the street in order to help Makram Ali, the deceased, who had collapsed as he walked along Seven Sisters Road a couple of minutes before the defendant carried out his attack.”

Osborne, of Glyn Rhosyn, in Cardiff, is charged with the murder of Mr Ali and attempted murder of “persons at the junction of Seven Sisters Road and Whadcoat Street, London”, which he denies.

The defendant had driven from Cardiff to London the previous day originally intending to drive the van into people taking part in the Al Quds Day march, but began looking for another target when this did not prove viable, the court heard.

A handwritten note was found in the cab of the van within hours of the attack, which complained about terrorists on the streets and the Rotherham child exploitation scandal, Mr Rees said.

Proceeding