|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.
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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