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Manchester attack: Hashem Abedi refuses to leave cell

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GMP

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Hashem Abedi was arrested in Libya the day after the bombing

The brother of Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi refused to leave his cell as a court heard emotional testimony from bereaved relatives.

Hashem Abedi is due to be sentenced for the murder of 22 people in the 2017 terror attack.

At a two-day court hearing, family members of some of those killed have told of the impact of their loss.

One bereaved mother told the Old Bailey Abedi’s “horrendous act of cowardice changed our lives forever”.

During the hearing, heartbroken parents broke down as they recalled the moment they discovered their loved ones had died.

It is normal for defendants to be present but Abedi – who dismissed his legal team – refused to attend.

Judge Mr Justice Jeremy Baker told the court he had “no power to direct that force be used to compel him to come into court”.

In March this year Abedi was found guilty of 22 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder – encompassing injured survivors – and conspiring to cause explosions.

During his trial, jurors heard the 23-year-old worked with his brother to source materials used in the “sudden and lethal” blast which injured hundreds at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May 2017.

‘All our hearts are broken’

Survivor Claire Booth, who was injured in the attack, broke down in tears as she read her statement in memory of her sister Kelly Brewster, 32.

“Since 22 May 2017 our family has not been the same – all our hearts are broken,” she said.

“My dad has not been able to walk his daughter down the aisle, my mum can’t take her shopping for a wedding dress.”

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Family handouts

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Top (left to right): Lisa Lees, Alison Howe, Georgina Callander, Kelly Brewster, John Atkinson, Jane Tweddle, Marcin Klis, Eilidh MacLeod – Middle (left to right): Angelika Klis, Courtney Boyle, Saffie Roussos, Olivia Campbell-Hardy, Martyn Hett, Michelle Kiss, Philip Tron, Elaine McIver – Bottom (left to right): Wendy Fawell, Chloe Rutherford, Liam Allen-Curry, Sorrell Leczkowski, Megan Hurley, Nell Jones

Caroline Curry held aloft a photo of her son Liam Curry, 19, who died with his girlfriend Chloe Rutherford.

“You took from me something more precious than gold, a beautiful boy, inside and out,” she said.

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Elizabeth Cook/PA Media

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Lisa Rutherford, mother of Chloe, said losing her daughter was a “pain that never leaves us”.

Chloe’s mother Lisa Rutherford said “this horrendous act of cowardice changed our lives forever”, adding that losing her daughter was a “pain that never leaves us”.

Figen Murray, mother of 29-year-old Martyn Hett, said she was unable to go to bed until after 22:31 BST, the time the bomb went off.

“I still cannot reconcile that I was fast asleep while my son lay dead on the floor, and I am ashamed about that,” she said.

Paul Hett, Martyn’s father, said the family would never get over his son’s death and “every subsequent act of terrorism brings fresh anxiety”.

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PA Media

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Figen Murray, mother of Martyn Hett, said she is unable to go to bed until after 22:31 – the time the bomb went off

Simon Callander recalled how he “didn’t see much daylight for the next few days” following the death of his daughter Georgina Callander, 18.

Jayne Jones, mother of 14-year-old Nell Jones, said words did not “come anywhere near” describing their grief.

“We miss her laughter, her wicked sense of humour. But we cherish her legacy,” she said.

A statement, read on behalf of Daryl Price, father of John Atkinson, 28, said Abedi had shown a “total disregard for human life” and “the repercussions of that night are beyond measure”.

Michael Thompson said his daughter Michelle Kiss, 45, had been “taken from us in the most terrible and cowardly way”.

In a statement, he said the family was “going from day to day on autopilot”.

“We believe there is more good in the world than bad but unfortunately it only takes one bad person to devastate and destroy so many lives,” he said.

‘The worst pain’

Samantha Leczkowski, mother of Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, from Leeds, said her daughter’s “senseless death” had “devastated us all”.

Mrs Leczkowski, who was also injured in the attack, said in a statement: “Losing one of my children has killed me – I may as well be dead.

“I don’t care that my leg doesn’t work – the pain in my heart is the worst pain that won’t go away.”

“I had to see Sorrell die in my arms,” she added.

The family of Lisa Lees, 43, a beauty therapist from Oldham, who was in the Manchester Arena foyer, told the court her loss had a “massive impact” on her family.

“A void has been left which can never be filled,” they said.

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Eilidh Macleod’s family said “every day has been a struggle” since she died in the explosion

The parents of Eilidh Macleod, 14, who lived on the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides, said: “Every day has been a struggle to maintain our dignity – trying to put one foot in front of the other is the hardest thing in our lives”.

“Anger, fear, resentment and heartbreak is something we all have to live with.”

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The partner of police officer Elaine McIver said losing her “overshadows everything”

Paul Price was left in a coma after suffering “dreadful” injuries in the attack, and may yet require his leg to be amputated below the knee.

His partner, police officer Elaine McIver, was killed in the blast.

“The loss of Elaine overshadows everything, and I don’t think I will get over it,” he said.

June Tron, the mother of Gateshead plumber Philip Tron, 32, told the court “my world fell apart” when she was told he had died and she still suffers nightmares about the bomb going off.

“I felt immense guilt. I just want the trial over. I want justice so I can start to breathe.”

‘Won’t let evil win’

Jane Tweddle’s children said “we know our mum will be with us forever” and they hope to make her “proud every day”.

“We won’t let evil win.

“What we have, which evil will never, is love,” the family added.

The family of 15-year-old Megan Hurley asked simply to be able to show the court an image of the youngster.

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Family handout

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Megan Hurley was 15 when she was killed in the attack

Abedi’s sentence is due to be handed down on Thursday.

He would have been eligible for a whole-life term had he been over the age of 21 at the time of the bombing, the court heard.

Mr Justice Jeremy Baker said it was a “matter for Parliament who pass legislation which prevents the court of making a whole-life order in the circumstances of this case”.

The Old Bailey was told some of the victim impact and witness statements should not be read in open court, but instead be considered by the judge in private.

The hearing continues.

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