Leeds mum's heartbreaking words over death of her daughter in Manchester Arena bombing

The mother of a Leeds girl who died in the Manchester Arena bombing shared a heartbreaking statement in court ahead of the sentencing of one of the killers.

Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 7:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 8:47 pm

Samantha Leczkowski, mother of Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, from Adel, said her daughter's "senseless death" has "devastated us all".

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Community shows heart for family of blast victim Sorrell Leczkowski

Courtney Boyle, a 19-year-old Leeds Beckett University student, and Wendy Fawell, 50, from Otley, were also among the 22 killed.

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Sorrell Leczkowski.

After the explosion, despite being injured herself, Samantha Leczkowski tried to resuscitate Sorrell.

She said in a statement: "Sorrell's bedroom has been untouched since (the blast) - I cannot bring myself to alter Sorrell's room. I find comfort from sitting in Sorrell's bedroom and talking.

"Sorrell was very happy, positive, caring, she would light up a room as she entered.

"Sorrell was clever, determined and beautiful inside and out. She wasn't only my daughter she was my best friend.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Lisa Rutherford, mother of 17-year-old Chloe Rutherford from South Shields reading her victim statement at the Old Bailey, London, during the two-day sentencing hearing for Hashem Abedi, younger brother of the Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi, who is facing life in jail for mass murder (photo: PA)

"She had a clear plan for her future, and wanted to study architecture at Columbia University in New York.

"She was the roots of the friendship group and solved all her friend's problems."

Her sister and a friend had been to watch the show though and Sorrell, an Allerton High School student, was waiting to meet them in the foyer with her mum and grandmother Pauline Healey.

Samantha Leczkowski continued in her statement: "I find it incredibly difficult talking about Sorrell in the past tense, I want nothing more than to have her back.

"Losing one of my children has killed me - I may as well be dead.

"I don't care that my leg doesn't work - the pain in my heart is the worst pain that won't go away.

"I had to see Sorrell die in my arms."

The statement was one of many read at the Old Bailey today ahead of the sentencing of Hashem Abedi, younger brother of suicide bomber Salman Abedi.

The judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, said the 23-year-old had been brought to the court building from prison, but added he was powerless to drag him into the courtroom.

It was left to family members of the 22 killed and dozens injured in the blast on May 22, 2017, to describe how the Abedi brothers' actions affected their lives.

Hashem was found guilty by a jury in March of 22 counts of murder, attempted murder and plotting to cause an explosion likely to endanger life.

The Old Bailey heard that the Islamic State-inspired jihadi helped his brother order, collect and store materials needed for the plot, before the latter blew himself up as thousands of men, women and children left an Ariana Grande concert.

The defendant, who travelled to Libya the month before the bombing, was arrested hours after the attack and was extradited back to Britain last summer.

He initially told police he wanted to co-operate to prove his innocence, but he absented himself from much of his trial and sacked his legal team.

It meant grieving families and survivors have not heard from the man police believe may have masterminded the plot.

The judge confirmed that Hashem Abedi cannot be handed a whole-life sentence because he was under the age of 21 at the time of the offences.

However, he could be given multiple life sentences with a minimum starting point of 30 years.

During the trial, prosecutor Duncan Penny QC said Hashem Abedi was "just as guilty" as the bomber who killed 22 men, women and children aged between eight and 51.

From January 2017, the brothers set about buying nuts and screws for shrapnel and ordering chemicals from Amazon for the homemade TATP explosive, with unwitting help from friends and relatives.

They hid their activities by switching mobile phones and using a variety of vehicles and homes to store the materials.

Their plans were briefly scuppered when their parents insisted they join them in Libya in April 2017 amid possible concerns about their descent into radicalisation, police said.

Salman Abedi returned alone the next month, and bought a rucksack and more shrapnel, constructed his bomb in a rented flat in central Manchester, and carried out reconnaissance missions.

Jurors were shown chilling CCTV footage of the 22-year-old travelling to the foyer of the arena, before detonating his bomb at 10.31pm, just as crowds were leaving the venue.

Mr Penny said Hashem Abedi was "at times chauffeur, at times quartermaster, at times electrical technician" in the plot.

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

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