Imam who protected Finsbury Park attacker from angry crowd praised by judge


An imam who urged an angry crowd not to harm the Finsbury Park attacker has been praised by a High Court judge for choosing "to respond to evil with good".

Mohammed Mahmoud, of the Muslim Welfare House, protected Darren Osborne when he was wrestled to the ground in the aftermath of his murderous van rampage on June 19 last year.

He told bystanders, who were throwing punches at Osborne, to hand him "unscathed" to the police and not take justice into their own hands.

After sentencing the attacker to life imprisonment with a minimum of 43 years, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb told Woolwich Crown Court: "Darren Osborne was in some danger from an angry crowd of about 100 people but the imam told them to leave him alone.

"To not seek vengeance; to allow the law to take its course. As it has done."

The Prince of Wales speaks to Imam Mohammed Mahmoud, centre left, following the terror attack (David Mirzoeff/PA)

She described his actions as a "demonstration of true leadership", adding: "His behaviour throws into sharp relief the bile spewed out online from those who aspire to lead the haters.

"Not because his exhortation to desist from punishing the perpetrator was remarkable but because he had the strength of character to do the right thing under pressure.

"He chose to respond to evil with good.

"His response should be everyone's response, whether it is to the evil of child grooming and abuse in Rochdale or the evil of terrorist atrocities in our cities."

Mr Mahmoud, who has been an imam at the mosque since 2011, told Osborne's trial that it had been a "natural response" to protect the murderer.

He said: "He posed no harm to anybody. He was immobilised.

"He wasn't a threat and therefore he should answer for his crime in a court such as this, which he is doing now, and not in a court in the streets."

The court also commended the work of Detective Sergeant Kevin Martin, for his "agile and rapid response" after Osborne submitted a last-minute defence statement claiming a man called Dave had been driving the van.