Manchester Arena bomber’s terrorist brother will NOT be condemned to die behind bars because of law that stops criminals under 21 getting a life sentence without chance of parole
- Mother of a Manchester bombing victim told how her heart ‘snapped’ in court
- Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry were killed in ISIS-inspired suicide bombing
- Hashem Abedi, 23, is due to be sentenced later today for his role in the attack
- He will not receive a whole-life order, because he was under 21 at the time
- Islamic State-inspired jihadi helped plan the attack with his older brother Salman
- Abedi refused to attend court yesterday as victims’ families gave their evidence
The terrorist brother of the Manchester Arena bomber will not be condemned to die behind bars, because of a law that stops criminals under 21 getting a life sentence without chance of parole.
Hashem Abedi, the brother of the Manchester Arena bomber Salman, was found guilty of the murder of 22 people – including an eight-year-old girl – at the concert in 2017.
The court heard he helped source, buy, stockpile and transport components for his older brother’s bomb from January 2017, using multiple mobile phones, vehicles and addresses to stash the deadly materials.
The judge presiding over his sentencing told a court Abedi cannot be handed a whole-life sentence because he was under the age of 21 at the time of the offences.
According to The Telegraph, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker said: ‘The reality is that if the accused had been over the age of 21, as was his brother who, of course, died in the incident, then it would be the prosecution’s case that this was a case where a whole-life order was appropriate.’
Abedi, could be given multiple life sentences with a minimum starting point of 30 years, following which he would be eligible for parole.
Manchester-born Hashem Abedi attempted murder and conspiracy to cause explosions, over the 2017 Manchester Arena suicide bomb attack carried out by his brother Salman Abedi
Hashem Abedi, the brother of the Manchester suicide bomber, faces long jail term after being found guilty of 22 murders. Hashem Abedi, 22, was convicted of plotting with his brother, Salman, to carry out one of Britain’s deadliest terrorist atrocities
Under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, sentencing rules set out for judges make a distinction between offenders aged between 18 and 20, compared with those over 21.
Those in their late teens and aged 20 can still be viewed as a youth, even for the most serious crimes.
Former Met Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson condemned the loophole, telling The Telegraph: ‘Parliament should think again about this legislation.
‘It is a nonsense that Abedi should be eligible for parole just because he was 20 rather than 21. This is not a criticism of the judge because that is the letter of the law and the law needs to be rethought.’
Salman Abedi at Victoria Station making his way to the Manchester Arena, on May 22, 2017, where he detonated his bomb, which was shown at the Old Bailey in the court case of Hashem Abedi, his brother
A two-day sentencing hearing got off to an emotional start on Wednesday, as a mother of one of the victims told a court how her heart ‘snapped’ when she heard of her daughter’s death.
In a tearful hearing at the Old Bailey, families of the victims read out impact statements to an empty dock after Hashem Abedi refused to enter the court room.
The ISIS-loving terrorist was brought to court from prison but refused to appear in the dock at Court Two of the London courthouse, remaining in the cells below.
A number of families read out emotional statements about the effect of the bombing on their lives. Lisa Rutherford, whose daughter Chloe, 17, died alongside her boyfriend, Liam Curry, 19, said the trip from their home in from South Shields, Tyneside to the Ariana Grande concert had been a Christmas gift.
‘Chloe was so excited to go and see her idol with Liam by her side and do a little shopping too,’ Mrs Rutherford told the Old Bailey.
Lisa Rutherford, mother of Manchester bombing victim Chloe, told the Old Bailey how her heart ‘snapped’ when she received news of her daughter’s death. Caroline Curry paid tribute to her son Liam Curry, Chloe’s boyfriend and another victim of the 2017 terror attack
Chloe Rutherford, 17, died alongside her boyfriend, Liam Curry, 19. Chloe’s mother said the trip from their home in from South Shields to the Ariana Grande concert had been a Christmas gift
She described how her daughter had planned her 18th birthday for the following August in so much detail, that she had chosen the music and picked out a dress.
‘We will never get to see our daughter Chloe celebrate her birthdays,’ Mrs Rutherford said, taking frequent breaks to compose herself.
‘She was never able to enjoy this and just dance the night away as she wished for. We will never get the excitement of her and Liam getting engaged, seeing the ring.
‘Me and her dad helping her set up home and her dad doing all the decorating as he would have loved to do, watching her grow.
‘Somehow we are expected to get through life without her and it just seems impossible Our lives have changed for ever.’
She added: ‘From the moment of receiving that call saying something had happened at the arena, my heart snapped. I am emotionally scarred.
‘We have lost so much, my giggle buddy, my theatre trip buddy and all those special mother and daughter times.’
Her husband was also ‘totally devastated’, she said.
The older Abedi, aged 22, killed himself and 22 others in the blast, with the youngest of his victims aged eight and the oldest 51
‘Taking her to work or parties or charity gigs was his time listening to her stories listening to what was going on. Special times together are no more.’
Chloe’s brother Scott had been happy that his friend from the cricket team was going out with his sister and would tell their parents: ‘She’ll be fine with Liam, mam.’
‘Not only has he lost his only sibling, Scott is just broken,’ Mrs Rutherford said.
Caroline Curry explained how her son had struggled against dyslexia to get into university and raised thousands of pounds for charity.
‘There are not enough words in the world to explain the pain I feel,’ she said.
‘Liam was so many things to so many people and a wonderful boyfriend for Chloe who was snatched away. Life now is not a life it is an existence that I tolerate.
‘I hide from the world. It is like I have lost a best friend. I didn’t get to go on our shopping day for a ring or see her reaction when he asked for Chloe’s hand.
‘All we have now is heartbreak and dreams smashed away in a few seconds. I can’t see when Liam and Chloe became parents.
‘He idolised his dad and I know he would have made the most amazing dad himself.’
Paul Hett, father of Manchester Arena attack victim Martyn Hett, (with Martyn’s brother Matt, right) speaking outside Manchester Minshull Court
Family and friends of the Manchester bomb victims, wearing masks in support of the victims, arrive at the Hilton Hotel in Manchester to watch the sentencing of Abedi via video link
Mrs Curry held up a photo Liam, and addressed Abedi, saying: ‘You took his future, my future our families future. All we have now is heartbreak and dreams of what if. What you took from me was more precious than gold, a beautiful boy, inside and out.
‘I want you to look at Liam and remember the beautiful boy that was snatched away. This life has lost a beautiful soul.’
Abedi cannot face a ‘whole life tariff’ because he was under 21 when he helped his brother build the bomb, the court heard.
Instead a minimum term will have to be set by the judge.
The judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, asked the prosecution: ‘If the accused had been over the age of 21 as was his brother, it would have been the prosecution submission that this was a case where a whole life tariff was appropriate?
Duncan Penny QC told him: ‘That is correct my lord.’
The judge told the court that the written impact statements were served on Abedi in his prison cell. ‘My understanding is that, having been brought to this building, Hashem Abedi has refused to come into the court room,’ he said.
‘I have no power to direct force to be used. In those circumstances, however unsatisfactory it is that Hashem Abedi is not in court to listen to the victim impact statements which are going to be read out to the court during the course of today and tomorrow, there is nothing the court itself can do about it.’
Abedi was not in court to hear the jury deliver its verdict in March after sacking his legal team in the trial and deciding to take no further part in proceedings.
He offered no defence to the charges that he had helped his brother plan the attack on the Manchester Arena, killing children, teenagers and adults as they poured out of a concert or waited for their loved ones, and critically injuring dozens more.
Mr Penny told the jury that Hashem Abedi was ‘just as responsible for this atrocity, as surely as if he had selected the target and detonated the bomb himself.’
Police were built a circumstantial case against Hashem which included detailed forensic work to determine Hashem’s fingerprints were on a prototype detonator.
The judge added that it was for parliament to change legislation if defendant’s under 21 were to be handed whole life terms. But he could be given multiple life sentences with a minimum term starting point of 30 years.
Ahead of the sentencing, family members of the Manchester bombing victims have described how ‘life will never be the same’, with heartbroken parents breaking down in court as they recalled the moment they discovered their loved ones had died.
One woman (left) wears a pink Chloe and Liam wristband in support of victims, Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry
Mrs Rutherford, mother of 17-year-old Chloe from South Shields, said her ‘heart snapped’ when she received a telephone call with the news.
Wiping away tears, and supported in court by crutches, she said: ‘We are lost, we are devastated and we feel an overwhelming loss.
‘Somehow we are expected to get through life without her, without our baby girl, and it just feels impossible.
‘There is always that empty chair where she should be.’
Caroline Curry held up a photo of her son Liam Curry, 19, also from South Shields, who was Chloe’s boyfriend and also died in the blast.
Mrs Curry spoke through tears as she appeared to address some of her comments to Abedi, who refused to come into court for his sentencing hearing.
Survivor Claire Booth wept as she described her sister Kelly Brewster, 32, from Sheffield, as ‘my sidekick’.
Ms Booth said: ‘I can’t go anywhere in public on my own, even if it’s to the shop. Sometimes I feel like a prisoner in my own home.
‘I try as much as possible to find some level of normality.
‘My dad has not been able to walk his daughter down the aisle, my mum can’t take her shopping for a wedding dress. We will never see her grow old. As a family, we have been thrown into a world of chaos.’
Figen Murray, mother of Martyn Hett, a 29-year-old public relations manager who lived in Stockport, described how she is now unable to go to bed until after 10.31pm, the time the bomb went off.
She said: ‘I still cannot reconcile that I was fast asleep while my son lay dead on the floor, and I am ashamed about that.
‘The enormity of the loss has left a massive void, Martyn was at the top of his game, he had wonderful friendships and he was due to travel.’
Mr Hett’s father Paul Hett said the family would ‘never get over’ his death.
He said: ‘Few of us can face going near to the arena or Victoria station. Every subsequent act of terrorism brings fresh anxiety. We are living in constant fear that something like this can happen again – that knock on the door.’
Simon Callander described himself as the ‘proud father’ of 18-year-old victim Georgina Callander, who lived in Preston.
Speaking about the aftermath of the attack, he said: ‘I didn’t see much daylight for the next few days. The house seemed so crowded with family, friends, police and neighbours. I walk the streets at night because I can’t go out in the day because everyone wants to come up and talk out of the goodness of their hearts.’
The sentencing hearing is due to resume this morning.
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