Manchester victim’s mum sobs ‘all I have is heartbreak’ as coward hides in cell

Manchester victim’s mum sobs ‘all I have is heartbreak’ as coward hides in cell

Manchester Arena bomb plotter Hashem Abedi did not have the courage to face his victims’ relatives today.

Abedi, 23, hid in his cell at the Old Bailey while families told the court how their lives have been shattered.

One mum said: “All we have now is heartbreak and dreams of ‘what if’.”

Abedi, left, who was found guilty of 22 counts of murder, will be sentenced tomorrow.

The youngest victim of the bombing in 2017 was eight.

Fighting back tears, Caroline Curry held up a photo of her murdered son Liam and said his death in the Manchester Arena bombing had stolen her entire family’s future.

The mum was expecting to speak directly to killer Abedi – but he was too cowardly to show his face.

Referring to Abedi while he hid in the cells, Caroline said in the witness stand at the Old Bailey: “You took from me something more precious than gold, a beautiful boy, inside and out.

“I want you to look at Liam and remember the beautiful boy that was snatched away.

“Your actions have caused this heartbreak. I just feel cheated. You took his future, my future, my family’s future.

“All we have now is heartbreak and dreams of ‘what if’.”

Liam, 19, was killed alongside his 17-year-old girlfriend Chloe Rutherford and 20 other innocent people when the nail bomb tore through the arena’s foyer after an Ariana Grande concert in 2017.The youngest victim was eight.

Abedi, who helped older brother Salman plan the attack, did not have the courage to appear in court yesterday at the sentence hearing.

The families of the victims walked past the empty dock with heads held high.

Chloe’s mother Lisa wiped away tears as she told the court in her victim statement: “All I ever wanted to do was make sure she was safe. She loved life and she and boyfriend Liam were full of happy adventures together.

“That night Chloe was so excited to be going to see her idol with her boyfriend.”

Lisa said her “heart snapped” when she picked up the phone to learn Chloe was dead, adding: “Missing Chloe is like a physical pain… it never leaves us.”

She turned to the judge Mr Justice Jeremy Baker with tears streaming down her face and told him: “As a family we need answers – we are destroyed.”

Liam and Chloe, from South Shields, Tyne and Wear, had been planning to move in together.

Abedi was convicted in March of offences including 22 counts of murder.

The trial heard the jihadi was inspired by Islamic State to help his brother order and store bomb-making equipment.

Salman, 22, killed himself when he detonated the homemade explosive as thousands of people left the concert.

On the first day of his brother’s sentencing hearing scores of emotional accounts were read out. Samantha
Leczkowski, who was injured in the blast, told how 14-year-old daughter Sorrell, of Leeds, died in her arms. The statement said: “Losing one of my children has killed me. I may as well be dead.

“I don’t care that my leg doesn’t work. I don’t care that I’m constantly in pain because the pain in my heart is the worst pain and it will never go away.

“I feel let down that I couldn’t save her. I had to see Sorrel die in my arms.’

Figen Murray told how the death of son Martyn Hett, 29, of Stockport, had “left a massive void” in her life.

She revealed how three years on from the attack she is still unable to go to sleep before 10.31pm, the exact time Salman detonated the bomb. Figen said: “I can’t reconcile as a mum that I was asleep with my son dead on the floor. I am ashamed about that.”

Claire Booth, whose jaw was broken in the attack, told how her sister Kelly Brewster, 32, from Sheffield, had been at the “happiest time in her life” when she was killed by the Abedis.

Claire added: “I struggle with feelings of guilt that I had no option but to leave Kelly to die alone.

“Having to tell my parents that I thought their daughter was dead and I couldn’t go to her was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.” Many survivors are still undergoing treatment for their injuries.

Some are woken by nightmares and terrifying flashbacks – with one woman forced to throw out her red duvet because it reminded her of the blood she saw. Others told of the “haunting” guilt they feel at not being able to stop Abedi.

The court heard that a young survivor has been left wheelchair bound. Jayne Jones, whose 14-year-old daughter Nell, from Cheshire, was killed, said she had been “almost suffocated” by grief.

She added: “We miss her wicked sense of humour… Her beautiful smile will stay with us until our last breath.”

Harriet Taylor, one of the children of victim Jane Tweddle, 51, of Blackpool, Lancs, said: “Evil is weak. Evil is invisible. It has no face, it has no heart and it has no race.

“But what we have that evil will never have is love.”

Harriet and sister Isabelle managed in 2017, with the help of ITV, to track down the officer who comforted their mum as she died.

Abedi, who went to Libya the month before the bomb­ing, was arrested hours after the attack.

Prosecutor Duncan Penny said Abedi was “at times chauffeur, at times quartermaster, at times electrical technician” in the plot. Mr Justice Baker said he had no power to force the defendant to appear in the dock and added it was “unsatisfactory” Abedi would not have to hear from those whose lives he has ruined.

The judge told the Old Bailey: “My understanding is Hashem Abedi has refused to come into the courtroom.”

As Manchester-born Abedi was under 21 at the time of the attack he cannot be given a whole life sentence.

But he could receive multiple life sentences, with a minimum term of at least 30 years, when he is jailed on Thursday.

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