Darren Osborne, a 47-year-old man under arrest on terror charges for running over worshippers outside a mosque in London, has been described by his mother as someone with problems but “not a terrorist”. British police named Osborne, a father of four living in the Welsh city of Cardiff, as the man who ploughed a van into pedestrians outside the Mosque on Seven Sisters Road in Finsbury Park, North London, yesterday.
He was detained by members of the public at the scene and then take to hospital and later arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism including murder and attempted murder. An elderly man, who was receiving first aid at the time of the attack for a presumed heart attack, died on the scene, but it is unclear if his death was a result of the attack or from a previous condition. Nine others were taken to three London hospitals and two were treated for minor injuries at the scene, outside Muslim Welfare House, near Finsbury Park Mosque.
In a statement on behalf of the family, Osborne’s 26-year-old nephew Ellis Osborne said, “We are massively shocked; it’s unbelievable, it still hasn’t really sunk in. We are devastated for the families, our hearts go out to the people who have been injured.” According to witnesses, Osborne shouted, “I want to kill all Muslims” as he drove a van into a crowd largely made up of worshippers out for Ramzan prayers. Osborne’s mother, 72-year-old Christine, said her son was “not a terrorist and had never shown any hatred towards Muslims”.
“I’m at my wit’s end. I saw him on TV and recognised him straight away. I just screamed. My son is no terrorist — he’s just a man with problems and I don’t know how to cope with all this,” she told The Sun.
Osborne’s sister Nicola denied that her brother is political. “He wouldn’t even know who the Prime Minister is. I’ve never heard him say anything about Muslims or anything racist,” she said. Osborne was born in Singapore but raised by his parents, John and Christine, in Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, England, where he attended Broadoak Mathematics and Computing College. He left Weston-Super-Mare several years ago and moved to a terraced house in Pentwyn, Cardiff, with his partner, children and two dogs.
The couple have four children, aged between 16 and five, and Osborne is described as a “family man”. Some neighbours believe he and his partner had separated in recent months and that he was often seen shouting at her in the street.
Osborne, who was not known to the police or security services, is believed to have driven 15 miles from his home in Cardiff to Pontyclun Van Hire on Sunday, hiring an 80-pound-a-night van. According to some of his drinking mates, he may have become radicalised following the recent terror attacks in London Bridge and Manchester.
He allegedly hurled insults at his Asian neighbour’s 12-year-old son and was allegedly thrown out of his local pub the night before the attack for “cursing Muslims”. Meanwhile, Scotland Yard chief Cressida Dick joined hundreds at a vigil outside Finsbury Park Mosque, where people from across the community had gathered in solidarity and to lay flowers.
The Finsbury Park attack is the fourth in the UK in four months, after incidents in Westminster, Manchester and on London Bridge. British Prime Minister Theresa May said the attack was “every bit as sickening” as the others.