Friday 23 February 2018

Who is Darren Osborne? Neighbours of Finsbury Park suspect say he would 'drink too much and flip the switch'

Darren Osborne. Photo: Facebook
Darren Osborne. Photo: Facebook
Police and emergency services outside the mosque as a victim lies on the road. Photo: Rex/Shutterstock
British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: GETTY

Martin Evans, Hannah Furness and Victoria Ward

The father-of-four suspected of mowing down a group of worshippers outside a London mosque was a "complex" and "troubled" individual known for “flipping his lid” when he drank too much, it has been claimed.

Darren Osborne, (47), was last night being held in custody on suspicion of terror offences including attempted murder.

After ploughing down a group of men as they left Ramadan prayers, he is alleged to have rammed his hired van into bollards before jumping out and shouting “I'm going to kill all Muslims - I did my bit”.

Mobile phone footage taken by onlookers showed him wild eyed and sweating as he repeatedly shouted “kill me”.

But as he left the vehicle he was chased and pinned to the floor before being dragged along the pavement where his victims’ bodies lay strewn.

When the police eventually arrived, Osborne smiled, waved and blew kisses, apparently taunting witnesses as he was bundled into the back of a van.

He was recognised on television by stunned Welsh neighbours more used to seeing him on the school run, who rang the police to identify him.

They later described him as "shouty" and "aggressive" but said they were gobsmacked to learn that he was a terror suspect.

Police and emergency services outside the mosque as a victim lies on the road. Photo: Rex/Shutterstock
Police and emergency services outside the mosque as a victim lies on the road. Photo: Rex/Shutterstock

Osborne was born in Singapore but raised by his parents John and Christine in Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, where he attended Broadoak Mathematics and Computing College.

Mrs Osborne, (72), told ITV News her son was a "complex" person, adding: "I'm not going to defend him but you know he's my son and it's a terrible terrible shock and it's not just robbing the bank, it's an atrocity.

“At this moment in time I can't cope with it, I can't. It's a terrible, terrible shock."

She claimed he was "disturbed" and had been on medication for mental health problems. She said she had recognised him straightaway in television reports, describing it as "every mother's worst nightmare".

“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.

Neighbours described Mrs Osborne as "long-suffering”. One said: "She is a great grandmother - Darren's nephew stays a lot.

"Darren's not had a bad life.

"He's had quite a privileged life. He's had more options than a lot of people."

His former drinking partners described him as a "loveable mentalist".

His sister, (50), said her brother had been "troubled for a long time."

She added: "Sorry is not a word that you can use really.

"I'm sorry that my brother has been that troubled that it has taken him to that level of troubledness."

She insisted he was "not interested in terrorism".

Osborne 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 said to help with the daily school run.

A complicated picture emerged of his personal life, with neighbours describing him as a  "family man" who was heard singing in his kitchen with his children on Sunday afternoon, just hours before he is alleged to have driven to London.

However, others said they believed he and his partner had separated in recent months and that he was often seen shouting at her in the street.

Pharmacist Rebecca Carpenter, 26, said: "He's quite a shouty person, always shouting at his wife and kids.

"He drove around in an old car that was always damaged.

"He never caused us any real problems, but we could often hear him shouting from the other side of the street.

"None of us have ever really spoken to him but we recognised him straight away when we saw him on the telly this morning.”

Another neighbour said: "I actually heard him singing in the street yesterday - weird really. I never knew what he did for a living.

His partner was described as "a really nice woman" by those who know her through work.

One said: "She's a kind and friendly person. Everyone said she was too good for him."

Osborne, who was not known to the police or security services, is believed to have driven 15 miles from his home in the Welsh capital to Pontyclun Van Hire on Sunday, hiring an £80-a-night Luton van.

He then drove more than 150 miles to north London throughout the evening, careering onto the pavement in Finsbury Park shortly after midnight.

Owners the van hire said they were “shocked and saddened” that one of their vehicles was used in the attack and pledged to help the police with their investigation.

Neighbour Saleem Naema, 50, a taxi driver, said: “I can't believe it. I know him. I've lived here for five years, he was already living here when I moved in.

"If I ever needed anything he would come. I just can't believe that he did that. I am a Muslim."

Khadijeh Sherizi, who lives next door to Osborne, said: "I saw him on the news and I thought 'oh my God' that is my neighbour.

"He has been so normal. He was in his kitchen yesterday afternoon singing with his kids.

"He was the dad of the family. He has kids. He lives next door. He seemed polite and pleasant to me.

"I just can't believe it."

One of his former neighbours in Weston-Super-Mare, who did not wish to be named, said: "We all know Darren, from our youth generally.

"When I heard what happened it absolutely made me feel ill. You don't imagine this.

"Weston is a small town. He would just drink too much and flip the switch I guess.”

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