Steven Morris — Guardian.co.uk June 21, 2017
The family of the suspect in the Finsbury Park mosque attack has claimed he had mental health problems and recently tried unsuccessfully to get himself sectioned.
Darren Osborne’s sister, Nicola, claimed he was on antidepressants and had thrown himself into a river in the last couple of months. She insisted he was neither a racist nor a terrorist.
It is understood that health officials in Cardiff, where Osborne lived, are working with police investigating the Finsbury Park attack to help establish the suspect’s mental state.
Police have been granted a warrant to hold Osborne until the early hours of Saturday following the incident on Monday in which a van was driven into a crowd of worshippers. One person died and 11 were injured.
Osborne, 47, is under arrest on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism, including murder and attempted murder.
A picture has emerged of a deeply troubled, unstable man. Osborne had a partner and four children, but though he saw the youngsters regularly he did not appear to be staying at the family home and is said to have slept rough sometimes in a tent or in vehicles.
On the Saturday evening before he drove to London he was thrown out of the Hollybush pub in Cardiff after angrily talking about a pro-Palestinian march in London. Over the weekend he was heard calling his Muslim next door neighbour’s son “in-bred”.
Police were called in the early hours of Sunday to a report that Osborne was sleeping in the van allegedly used in the attack, but did not take any action after deciding no offence had been committed.
There is no immediate evidence that Osborne was an active member of a far-right organisation. He does, however, appear to have a Twitter account, which he has never used to send his own tweets, but he instead followed 32 other users, including Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, the leaders of the far-right party Britain First.
Speaking outside her flat in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, Nicola Osborne, 50, said her brother was mentally frail. She told the Daily Mirror: “He tried to kill himself six, eight weeks ago. He threw himself into the river in Cardiff. He asked to be taken into care, to be sectioned, but they wouldn’t do it.
“He was on antidepressants. He came to see me after he tried to kill himself. He showed me the bump on his head.”
Osborne grew up in Weston-super-Mare and has been described as a troublemaker by family friends and neighbours there.
Nicola Osborne said: “He asked me if he could stay, but he has made my life a misery over the years. Everyone knows Darren. I’ve lost jobs, boyfriends after people found out I am Darren Osborne’s sister.”