Manchester Arena and Parsons Green terrorists refuse to appear for assault hearing

7 April 2021, 13:17 | Updated: 7 April 2021, 15:35

The brother of the Manchester Arena bomber, who is serving life in jail for helping make the explosive, has refused to appear in court after he allegedly assaulted two prison officers.

Hashem Abedi, 23, from Fallowfield, Manchester, was due to appear in court for the first time since he withdrew from his trial, fired his lawyers, and refused to attend his sentencing.

Abedi is charged alongside Ahmed Hassan, 21, from Sunbury, Surrey, who tried to blow up a Tube train by setting off a device in a shopping bag at Parsons Green in September 2017.

They were allegedly joined by a third prisoner, Muhammed Saeed, 23, from Trafford, Manchester, who is facing sentence as part of an online group using encrypted platforms to share Islamic State propaganda.

The three men are charged with assaulting Paul Edwards, a prison officer at HMP Belmarsh, causing actual bodily harm, on 11 May last year.

Abedi is also charged with assaulting a second officer.

They were due to appear by video link at Westminster Magistrates Court - Abedi and Hassan from Frankland jail in County Durham and Saeed from Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire.

The prosecution said the defendants had actually been sent forms for 8 April and not 7 April.

Nicholas Alexander, prosecuting, said: "They are unrepresented. It is quite clear those defendants have indicated to the court they do not wish to attend, they have refused to leave their cells.

"My problem, and it is an administrative one, is that they are required to attend tomorrow."

Saeed did appear and a solicitor was found to represent him. He pleaded not guilty to the assault charge.

District Judge Tan Ikram denied Saeed bail and committed the case to Woolwich Crown Court on 5 May.

Outlining the case, Mr Alexander told the court: "This defendant, along with the two absent, were at Belmarsh 11 May 2020.

"They had a period of time out of the cells and on their return back to the cells they took the opportunity of entering into an office where prison officer Edwards was seated at a desk.

"The three defendants proceeded to assault Mr Edwards and he sustained injuries - a cut to his head, bruising and he was kicked.

"As a result of his injuries he has ongoing hearing problems which have been looked into by a medical practitioner.

"Other prison officers went into the office as quickly as they could to pull the three defendants off from officer Edwards and managed ultimately to control the defendants and break up their assault."

Mel Kelemework, for Saeed, said he claims that "no assault took place, I did not assault him".

Abedi was found guilty in March last year of 22 counts of murder. In August at the Old Bailey, he was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 55 years, the longest ever handed down by a court.

He was said to be a chauffeur, quartermaster, and munitions technician, for his brother Salman Abedi, 22, who blew himself up in the City Room foyer of Manchester Arena in May 2017.

Hassan had set the timer for his device and got off at the Tube train at the previous stop. The bomb ignited but did not fully detonate and the passengers managed to escape.

He was spotted by a police officer and arrested in Dover as he tried to leave the country.