Brother of Manchester Arena bomber jailed for minimum of 55 years

Hashem Abedi was found guilty of 22 counts of murder, attempted murder and plotting to cause an explosion likely to endanger life

Grieving families gave emotional evidence at the Old Bailey on Wednesday and Thursday as the judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, prepared to sentence the homegrown Islamic State-inspired jihadi.

The 23-year-old, taking into account the time he has already spent on remand, will serve 52 years and 71 days in prison before he will be eligible for parole – which may never be granted.

Abedi’s older brother, 22-year-old Salman, detonated a suicide bomb at 10.31pm on May 22, 2017 in the foyer of Manchester Arena as crowds were leaving an Ariana Grande pop concert – killing men, women and children aged between eight and 51.

His body was later recovered in four parts.

Mr Justice Baker said: 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.

The defendant should clearly understand the minimum term he should serve is 55 years. He may never be released.

Manchester-born Abedi refused to attend court for his sentencing hearings on Aug 19 and 20, and Mr Justice Baker said he had no power to make the prison service use force to bring him to the dock.

Abedi was found guilty by a jury in March of 22 counts of murder, attempted murder and plotting to cause an explosion likely to endanger life.

He and his brother spent months ordering, stockpiling and transporting the deadly materials required for their murderous act, using multiple mobile phones, addresses and runaround vehicles to craft their bomb.

Abedi was extradited back to Britain last summer, telling police he wanted to cooperate.

A public inquiry into the bombing is scheduled to start next month.

The judge explained that he could not hand Abedi a whole-life sentence because he was under the age of 21 at the time of the offences.

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, said Mr Justice Baker.

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.

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