[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 July 2007, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
Patient wait for life behind bars
By Jenny Percival
BBC News, Woolwich Crown Court

The 21 July bomb plotters looked patient rather than nervous as they waited to be sentenced.

Muktar Ibrahim

Take away the court setting and they could have been four men waiting at a bus stop, rather than would-be mass murderers who were about to be locked away for many years.

The trial was a lengthy one at six months. The mitigation was brief.

Plot leader Muktar Ibrahim's barrister said that, as the middle of seven children, his client was concerned about the effect his sentence might have on his three brothers and three sisters.

But he recognised that a minimum of 40 years was "appropriate".

"That's very realistic," said the judge, Mr Justice Fulford.

Yassin Omar's lawyer told the court he didn't expect anything he said to have any significant impact on the sentence.

And he handed the judge a letter from Omar's former foster father, Steven Lamb, describing how he still cared about Omar.

Hussain Osman's lawyer said his client was a "follower not an organiser" and had only joined the plot at a late stage.

Ramzi Mohammed was also a "late recruit", his lawyer pleaded.

But the barristers' appeals had little effect on the judge.

Copy of Koran

Surrounded by 10 officers, the defendants remained seated behind the glass screen throughout the 30-minute hearing.

Muktar Ibrahim, Yassin Omar, Ramzi Mohammed and Hussain Osman  (clockwise from top left)

Ibrahim looked down at his shoes, acknowledging no-one.

Dressed in a navy blue tracksuit, it was difficult to think of him as a kingpin, or "emir".

Omar, dressed in a long white robe, chatted occasionally to his neighbour Osman.

At well over 6ft tall, it was equally difficult to imagine how Omar thought he could have escaped capture dressed as a woman in a burka.

Osman clutched a copy of the Koran. With a fawn cardigan over his brown robes, it was easier to picture the father-of-three as a contented family man rather than a potential murderer.

Mohammed, the youngest of the four at 25, was the only one to show any anxiety.

Dressed in a blue shirt and jeans, he looked nervously around the court across the rows of barristers and solicitors and up to the public gallery.

This was a viable and a very nearly successful attempt at mass murder
Mr Justice Fulford

The men heard Mr Justice Fulford dismiss the defence's suggestion that their actions were a response to the Iraq war and that they did not intend to kill or maim.

"This was a viable and a very nearly successful attempt at mass murder," said the judge.

The four were impassive as he sentenced them to life imprisonment, with a tariff of 40 years.

"Take the defendants down," he ordered.

Arthur Burton-Garbett
Mr Burton-Garbett chased after Mohammed at Oval Tube station

After the men had been led away, the judge praised the bravery of two members of the public who were sitting in court, Angus Campbell, 43, and Arthur Burton-Garbett.

Off-duty fireman Mr Campbell and Mr Burton-Garbett, a former soldier, had tried to stop Mohammed as he fled from Oval Tube station after his failed attack.

Mr Burton-Garbett appeared to have tears in his eyes as the judge spoke about his selfless actions.

Mr Burton-Garbett is 72, an age the defendants will be approaching by the time their minimum sentence of 40 years is reached.




FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific