Manchester bomber Hashem Abedi will escape whole life sentence as he was not 21 at time of blast which killed 22 people

Hashem Abedi, who helped plan the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing, will escape a life sentence because he was not 21 at the time Credit: AFP

MANCHESTER bomber Hashem Abedi will escape serving a whole life sentence under new laws as he was not 21 at the time of the attack.

Twenty-two people were killed when Hashem's brother Salman detonated a bomb as crowds left the Manchester Arena after an Ariana Grande in May 2017.

More than 130 people suffered injuries in the explosion, and Salman was also killed.

Hashem was 2,000 miles away in Libya at the time, but was later found to have played a key role in helping his brother plan the attack.

In March, the now 22-year-old was convicted of 22 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder encompassing the injured survivors, and conspiring with his brother to cause explosions.

The trial came after a lengthy extradition process that followed Hashem's arrest by authorities in Libya.

Hashem refused to attend the first day of a two-day sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey and will be jailed today.

However new laws saying defendants aged under 21 when they committed the offence cannot serve whole life sentences have tied the judges hands and mean he will one day be freed.

Speaking at the start of the hearing, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker said: "The reality is that if the accused had been over the age of 21, as was his brother, who of course died in the incident, then it would be the prosecution's case that this was a case where a whole life order was appropriate.

"It is a matter not at the court's discretion… but a matter for Parliament, which passed the legislation to prevent the court from passing a whole order in this case."

The case is thought to be the first time a convict over the age of 21 avoided a "life means life" sentence on the grounds that he was under 21 at the time of the offence.

The Abedi brothers are reported to have spent months planning the attack, using friends' bank accounts to buy chemicals online.

The pair flew to Libya in April, with Salman returning to Manchester days before the bombing.

Security footage then captured him walking around the arena as part of a practice run during a Take That show.

TIMELINE OF TERROR

KEY dates leading up to the bomb blast:
2017
January 18 - Hashem Abedi begins ordering components for the deadly explosive after his parents move back to Libya
February 19 - The brothers rent a flat in the north of the city so they can begin stockpiling ingredients for the bomb
March 20 - An email address, bedab7jeana@gmail.com - meaning 'to slaughter we have come' - is set up to order chemicals.
April 13 - The brothers buy a white Nissan Micra for £230 on Gumtree to store bomb-making items
April 15 - They both leave for Libya with their parents, who were visiting the UK, and Salman receives a £2,000 student loan grant
May 18 - Salman arrives back in Manchester and visits the arena before buying batteries, bulbs, tape, cable and a suitcase
May 19 - He picks up the items from the Micra and stores them in his suitcase before purchasing more equipment for the bomb - including a backpack, money tin to house the explosive and 5,000 metal nuts
May 20 - Salman purchases more than 4,000 screws and nuts and a five-litre paint tin from B&Q and Screwfix
May 22 - He detonates the bomb in the foyer of the area at 10.31pm - killing 22 people and injuring hundreds of others
June 1 - The Nissan Micra is discovered in Manchester containing acid, bags and boxes of nails, traces of explosives, and Hashem's fingerprints
November 1 - A formal extradition request for Hashem is made by the UK to Libya
2019
July 17 - Hashem is extradited back to the UK and later interviewed by cops where he denies involvement
2020
February 4 - He goes on trial at the Old Bailey accused of murdering 22 people
March 17 - Hashem is convicted of 22 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder encompassing the remaining injured, and one count of conspiring with his brother in the bomb blast
August 19 - A two-day sentencing hearing begins


Hashem Abedi, a former electronics student, continued advising him by phone, and is believed to have been the last person he spoke to before carrying out the attack.

On the night of the bombing, he waited in the foyer of the Manchester Arena for around an hour before parents and children began leaving the show at around 10.30pm.

A total of 359 people were stood in the foyer when the bomb was detonated.

Among debris found after the blast were 1,675 nyloc nuts, 156 flanged nuts, 663 plain nuts, and 11 fragments from Salman Abedi and his victims.

The youngest victim, Saffie-Rose Roussos, eight, suffered more than 70 external injuries, with 17 metal nuts in her body, and died from blood loss due to multiple injuries.

Hashem Abedi denied any knowledge of his brother's plot, but the court heard his DNA was discovered in a Nissan Micra used to store packs of nails for the bomb.

Salman Abedi was captured in CCTV footage returning to the car after his Take That practice run.

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Barraclough said: "If you look at these two brothers, they are not kids caught in the headlights of something they don't understand.

"These two men are the real deal, these are proper jihadis.

"You do not walk into a space like the Manchester Arena and kill yourself with an enormous bomb like that, taking 22 innocent lives with you, if you are not a proper jihadist.

"He was with his brother throughout the entire process of making this explosive and building this bomb, I believe he provided encouragement right up to the end.

"This was all about the sick ideology of Islamic State and this desire for martyrdom."

Twenty-two people were killed in the bombing Credit: Press Association Images

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