Heartbroken families of Manchester Arena attack victims slam £10m taxpayer bill to keep mass murderer safe in prison

THE heartbroken families of the Manchester Arena attack victims have slammed a £10m taxpayer bill to keep the mass murderer safe in prison.

Hashem Abedi, 23, was jailed for 55 years this week for aiding his brother and suicide-bomber Salman in the slaughter of 22 people at a concert by US pop singer Ariana Grande three years ago.



Abedi is now under the highest level of protective custody at a cost ­of up to £10million to keep him safe after a series of threats from inmates.

Families of victims of the attack reacted angrily at the taxpayer cost which can be up to £87,000 a year for category A prisoners, according to government figures.

That alone would total almost £5million for the duration of Abedi’s minimum term.

Steve Howe, whose wife Alison, 45, was killed by the bomb, told The Sunday People: “It’s unbelievable. I think most British taxpayers would not want to pay for this. It’s a ridiculous amount.”

It’s unbelievable. I think most British taxpayers would not want to pay for this. It’s a ridiculous amount.

In contrast, families of those who died in the attack were ­entitled to £28,269 each from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

A further £1.12million was paid to around 1,000 people injured – just over £1,000 each.

Alison, of Royton, Gtr Manchester, died while waiting in the arena foyer to collect her two teenage daughters, who both survived.

Steve, 64, added: “My daughters have been without their mum for three years.

My daughters have been without their mum for three years.

"We are never going to get over the loss of Alison.

“The police are going on like we should be over the moon about the verdict. I feel bitter about it.

“It won’t bring Alison back.”

“We’ve had no help ­whatsoever since the day it happened," he said referring to the Government.

DEATH THREATS

Death threats have already appeared on one Facebook page used by prisoners and former inmates.

One serving prisoner said: “Slide the razors under the door fellas,” while another added: “Won’t last two mins.”

Other threats included “Big man blowing people up but now he’s in reality and I hope dies a slow death.”

As an at-risk prisoner in a top-security jail, Abedi will be given his own cell and will be supported by a team of prison officers responsible for his physical and mental welfare.

All of his activities including his meals, washing and visits will be scrutinised by a team of up to four prison officers.

Abedi will also be able to attend a Muslim payer service which will be run by a prison imam.

After a certain period he will be issued with a TV and will be able to order certain goods and clothing online from Amazon.

One prison source said: “He will not be punished in prison for his crimes.

"His punishment is prison.

“He will be treated professionally by prison staff and they could be ­disciplined for any welfare failures.

“If Abedi behaves himself he could have a relatively comfortable life but he will be aware that he remains at risk from attack.

“It is possible that Abedi could be housed in a sex offender wing or other area used exclusively to house the vulnerable and at-risk prisoners.”


A court heard younger brother Abedi played an "integral part" in helping his brother source shrapnel used in the bomb that tore through the Manchester Arena in 2017.

The blast killed 22 people – including an eight-year-old girl – and left hundreds of others injured as fans spilled out of an Ariana Grande concert.

Salman Abedi was killed in the terror attack, while ISIS fanatic Hashem was 2,000 miles away in Libya plotting further bloodshed around the world.

Hashem was in March convicted of 22 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder encompassing the injured survivors, and conspiring with his brother to cause explosions.

But the judge was powerless to impose a whole life sentence – meaning Abedi would die behind bars – as he was not over the age of 21 at the time the atrocity took place.

Instead, Abedi was caged for life with a minimum of 55 years – minus two years for time spent in prison – for being "equally culpable" in the terror attack.





Families of those killed during the blast said at this week's sentencing hearing that they are the ones serving a life sentence.

Figen Murray, whose son Martyn Hett, 29, was killed in the blast, told Sky News: "We are the ones with the life sentence."

Martyn's dad added: "No sentence can change things for us or what we have to go through."

In a joint statement, the parents of sweethearts Chloe Rutherford, 17, and Liam Curry, 19, said: "As the families of Chloe and Liam, no sentence will reflect the loss we feel all day without them as he won't really be serving the same sentence we are."

The family of Kelly Brewster, 32, who died shielding her young niece in the blast, said: "His sentence will never compare to the sentence we have to live for the rest of our lives without Kelly.

"One day he will be free but we will forever be broken."



The victims' families bravely read emotional statements detailing how they have been "destroyed" by the blast.

There were tears from some as they revealed their heartbreak three years on from the attack – including parents who have left their children's bedrooms unchanged and others who still call their child for dinner.

Others have been left with life-changing injuries themselves and still suffer horrifying flashbacks of watching their children die in their arms in the carnage.

And those who survived spoke of being haunted over the guilt of not being able to stop the atrocity as it unfolded in front of them.

Georgina Callander's dad Simon read out a powerful statement saying he "wants to die" after his 18-year-old daughter was killed.

He said: "I walked the streets at night but I couldn't go out at day because everyone wants to come and talk.

"I don’t want to talk, I want to die.

"There have been many times since [the bombing] that if I had been near a gun I would be with her now.

"I will never get over Georgina’s death."

Caroline Curry wept as she told how her 19-year-old son Liam had helped organise his dad's funeral just months before the blast.

Paying tribute to her "other half", she also spoke about how she will never see her son marry his girlfriend Chloe Rutherford, 17, who also died in the attack.

She also held up a picture of her tragic son as she addressed Hashem.

Ms Curry said: "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."



A joint statement was also read out from the family of 14-year-old victim Nell Jones.

It read: "The grief of losing a child is like no other – it is all consuming.

"The pain is with us every day, it wraps around us until it suffocates us."

In another emotional statement, Samantha Leczkowski revealed her 14-year-old daughter Sorrell's bedroom hasn't changed since the day she left for the gig.

Claire Booth, whose sister Kelly Brewster was killed as she heroically shielded her 12-year-old niece, told how she still suffers PTSD.

She said: "[My daughter] remembers in detail what happened that night and is devastated at being in a wheelchair.

"I struggle with feelings of guilt that I had to leave Kelly to die alone in that awful place.

"I tried to keep Kelly in my eyeline for as long as possible…but I couldn't be with her as she lay alone on that cold floor.

"Our family has been dragged into a world of terrorism and criminality which is a world away from what we have ever known."

While the dad of 45-year-old Michelle Kiss said: "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."

Hashem's full role in the atrocity was revealed by police after the unanimous verdicts were given – with Hashem said to be "every bit as responsible" as his brother.

And chillingly, it emerged he may have been the ringleader in the murderous plot all along.

The sadistic brothers spent months hatching the bloodbath – using bank accounts of pals to buy chemicals online.

They also raided their mum's £550-a-week benefit payments, which she continued to receive after she left the UK for Libya, to buy tools.

The pair flew back to Libya when friends noticed signs they had been radicalised but just days before the attack, Salman Abedi returned to Manchester.

Haunting CCTV caught him skulking around the arena at a Take That gig on a practice run.

And Hashem Abedi, a former electronics student, continued advising him by phone — and is believed to have been the last person he spoke to when he stopped at a bench on his way to the gig.

Salman later left for the nearby Arndale shopping centre where he bought batteries and a blue Kangol suitcase so he could move his bomb-making equipment to the flat he rented in Manchester city centre.




He was then caught in chilling CCTV images with a rucksack packed with thousands of nuts just 19 seconds before the deadly blast.

Salman Abedi waited for around an hour in the Manchester Arena foyer before parents and children left the gig at 10.30pm.

One minute later, he detonated the bomb as 359 people stood in the City Room – with 19 declared dead at the scene.

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.

There were also screws recovered by investigators but they were so damaged they couldn't be counted.

Images shown to jurors also feature charred clothing recovered from the scene and labels from vegetable oil used to make the bomb.

Other debris included fragments from a money tin decorated with the design of a £5 note also used to maim innocent gig-goers.

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.

Jurors also heard Salman Abedi's body was later recovered in four parts and he had to be identified by his DNA and fingerprints.

Forensic investigators later found more than 2,000 nuts from the homemade bomb at the scene.

After the blast, Hashem Abedi denied he was an extremist 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" four days before the terror attack.

The brothers were born in Manchester to Libyan parents and booked one-way tickets the country in April 2017 after stockpiling chemicals used to make the homemade explosive.

Salman Abedi then returned to his native Manchester on May 18 to carry out the atrocity.

Hashem repeatedly denied any knowledge of his brother’s plot and suggested he had been conned into believing the bomb parts were for household use.

He was arrested by Libyan authorities soon after the attack but an extradition bid proved difficult because of the civil war raging in the North African country.

The Sun on Sunday revealed the extradition bid cost UK taxpayers £123,000.

He then refused to defend himself at trial and stopped attending court – remaining absent from the dock as the verdicts were delivered in March.

Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Ian Hopkins, said: “For the families and friends of those 22 souls whose lives were brutally cut short that night in May 2017, the pain will never fully diminish.

“I know that no sentence will ever make amends for their loss, nor the suffering of the more than 1,000 people injured – many seriously or left with deep psychological wounds – who continue to live with the effect of this cowardly attack.

“I can only hope it brings some small measure of comfort to them that Abedi will spend the vast majority of the rest of his life behind bars – where he belongs."

A public inquiry into the bombing is scheduled to start next month.

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, [email protected] – 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 arena 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



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