Local residents react at the scene in Finsbury Park area of north London after a vehicle hit pedestrians on June 19, 2017.
Witnesses recount London mosque attack
01:17 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

A man who deliberately drove a van into a group of Muslims near a mosque in north London in June was convicted Thursday of murder and attempted murder.

Darren Osborne, 48, appeared to have been motivated by anger over Islamist terror attacks in London and Manchester, England, in 2017 and a child grooming scandal in Rochdale that involved men of Asian origin, Woolwich Crown Court in southeast London was told.

He rented a van in Wales and drove it to London on June 18 planning to attack people attending a march, the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement after the verdict.

When that did not prove possible, he drove around the city looking for a mosque, it said.

Just after midnight, he saw a group of Muslims helping 51-year-old Makram Ali, who had collapsed at an intersection. More people were around than usual because it was Ramadan, and many Muslims were on their way to or from prayers, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

According to the prosecution, Osborne deliberately drove his vehicle into the group near Finsbury Park Mosque, fatally injuring Ali and trying to kill as many others as he could. Nine others were taken to the hospital with injuries in the attack.

A witness told the court that when Osborne was stopped from fleeing by members of the public, he said: “I’ve done my job, you can kill me now.”

In his defense, Osborne claimed that a man named “Dave” had been driving the van and was responsible for the attack. But he was unable to explain why closed-circuit TV showed only one man leaving the van, the prosecution said.

Osborne will be sentenced at a later date.

Flowers and tributes lie at a police cordon near the scene of the Finsbury Park attack.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it had prosecuted the case as a terrorist offense because Osborne’s actions were intended to advance a political purpose, expressed in a handwritten note found in the van he used and in comments he made to police officers at the scene.

“Darren Osborne planned and carried out this attack because of his hatred of Muslims,” said Sue Hemming of the Crown Prosecution Service.

“He later invented an unconvincing story to counter the overwhelming weight of evidence but the jury has convicted him. We have been clear throughout that this was a terrorist attack, and he must now face the consequences of his actions.”

The Muslim Council of Britain welcomed the guilty verdict.

“The scenes we witnessed last summer were the most violent manifestation of Islamophobia yet in our country. We cannot be complacent and regard this as a one-off terrorist incident,” Secretary-General Harun Khan said in a statement.

“We heard during the trial how Osborne was motivated by anti-Muslim groups and Islamophobic tropes not only prevalent in far-right circles, but also made acceptable in our mainstream.”

CNN’s Bharati Naik contributed to this report.