Manchester Arena bomb plotter Hashem Abedi jailed for 55 years

20 August 2020, 12:51

Jailed: Hashem Abedi, younger brother of the Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi
Jailed: Hashem Abedi, younger brother of the Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The brother of the Manchester Arena bomber has been given a life sentence with a minimum tariff of 55 years.

Manchester Arena bomb plotter Hashem Abedi has been sentenced for his part in the atrocity, more than three years after 22 people were murdered and hundreds of others were hurt.

Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, passing sentence on Manchester Arena bomb plotter Hashem Abedi, who refused to come into the courtroom at the Old Bailey, said: "If the defendant, like his brother, had been 21 or over at the time of the offence, the appropriate starting point would have been a whole life order.

"Not only because of the combination of the significant degree of pre-meditation but also because the motivation for them was to advance the ideology of Islamism, a matter distinct to and abhorrent to the vast majority for those who follow the Islamic faith."

Mr Justice Baker continued: "The defendant and his brother were equally culpable for the deaths and injuries caused by the explosion.

"The stark reality is, these were atrocious crimes. Large in scale, deadly in intent, appalling in their consequences.

"The despair and desolation of the bereaved families has been palpable."

Grieving families gave emotional evidence from courtroom two of the Old Bailey on Wednesday as judge Mr Justice Jeremy Baker began the process of sentencing the homegrown Islamic State-inspired jihadi.

Manchester-born Abedi, now 23, again refused to attend court, despite apparently being brought into the building from Belmarsh prison, having previously sacked his legal team and effectively withdrawing from the murder trial.

The judge said he was powerless to force Abedi into the dock, and also confirmed to those present in the court and watching remotely via videolink that Abedi cannot be handed a whole-life sentence because he was under the age of 21 at the time of the offences.

Following the sentencing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "The Manchester Arena attack was a horrifying and cowardly act of violence which targeted children and families. 

“Those who were taken from us will never be forgotten, nor will the spirit of the people of Manchester who came together to send a clear message to the entire world that terrorists will never prevail.

“My thoughts remain with the survivors, and with the friends and families of victims, who have shown remarkable courage and dignity.

“I would also like to express my thanks to the police and all those who have worked tirelessly to deliver justice for the families. Today’s sentencing is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of tolerance, community and kindness – values which are fundamental to our country, and which we saw in Manchester in the face of unimaginable tragedy.”

It was Abedi's older brother, 22-year-old Salman, who detonated his suicide bomb at 10.31pm on May 22 2017, killing men, women and children aged between eight and 51.

The court heard powerful statements from some of the victims' family members, who spoke of their devastating loss, their endless grief, and the gaping voids left by the massacre.

Survivors also recalled feeling guilty, for escaping the blast with their lives when others did not, and for instantly thinking the worst when they saw people wearing backpacks on tubes.

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