World

Finsbury Park attacker ‘disturbed’ but not ‘racist’ says mother

Family of Darren Osborne, who was arrested for driving a van into a group of Muslims in London, open up

CARDIFF, WALES The 47-year-old father of four, Darren Osborne, who was named in the British press as the man arrested on suspicion of ploughing a van into a group of Muslims in London on Monday, is a "complex" and "troubled" man.

He is alleged to have expressed increasingly antagonistic views towards Muslims since the London Bridge atrocity earlier this month, UK daily The Telegraph reported.

He was questioned by the police yesterday.

Nine people were hospitalised after Osborne, who witnesses said shouted, "I want to kill all Muslims", slammed into a crowd near a mosque in the Finsbury Park area of London.

One elderly man, who had collapsed moments before the van appeared, was pronounced dead at the scene, although police have not yet confirmed whether he died as a result of the attack.

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," she told The Sun.

"My son is no terrorist; he is just a man with problems, and I don't know how to cope with all this."

She claimed he was "disturbed" and had been on medication for mental health problems. She described recognising him as "every mother's worst nightmare".

Osborne's sister Nicola denied that her brother is political.

"He wouldn't even know who the prime minister was," she said. "I have never heard him say anything about Muslims or anything racist."

His nephew Ellis told AFP: "We are massively shocked; it is 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. It is madness. It is obviously sheer madness."

The terror probe led investigators to the Welsh capital Cardiff, where they searched a property said by media to be the home of Osborne.

Five residents speaking to the Press Association journalists identified images of the man being arrested as their neighbour, Osborne.

"I know him. I have lived here for five years. He was already living here when I moved in," said 50-year-old Saleem Naema.

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

Another neighbour said Osborne could often be seen in the street arguing with his wife.

Meanwhile, an imam from the Muslim Welfare House, who stepped in to protect Osborne from the angry crowd after the incident, was hailed as a hero in British newspapers yesterday.

"We found that a group of people quickly started to collect around him... and some tried to hit him," Mr Mohammed Mahmoud told reporters.

"By God's grace, we managed to surround him and to protect him from any harm."

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