Manchester Arena bomber caught on CCTV scoping out venue during Take That concert

Chilling footage of Salman Abedi scoping out Manchester Arena during a Take That concert, days before his suicide bomb murdered 22 people, has been shown to a jury.

Monday, 24th February 2020, 5:00 pm

Abedi can be seen looking at the crowds of people gathering before the event and the long queues at the box office, just yards from the spot where four days later he would return to detonate a rucksack bomb packed with shrapnel.

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His younger brother, Hashem Abedi, 22, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of helping him plan the attack in the arena's City Rooms, the foyer where Salman detonated his device, killing 22 innocent bystanders and injuring hundreds more at the end of an Ariana Grande show on May 22, 2017.

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A court artist's sketch of Hashem Abedi, younger brother of the Manchester Arena bomber, in the dock at the Old Bailey. Picture: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire

Among those killed were Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, from Adel, Leeds; Courtney Boyle, 19, a Leeds Beckett University student from Gateshead; Kelly Brewster, 32, from Sheffield; Wendy Fawell, 50, from Otley; and Angelika and Marcin Klis, a couple from York.

CCTV footage shows Salman Abedi travelling to the arena, spending more than a minute in the City Rooms where crowds can be seen milling around him, before leaving for the nearby Arndale shopping centre.

There he buys four nine volt batteries and a large blue Kangol suitcase, used to transport his bomb-making equipment to the flat he had rented out in the city centre, after leaving his brother with family in Libya and returning alone to the UK on May 18, 2017.

Earlier he was caught on CCTV leaving the flat in Granby Row around 6pm.

The hooded figure, wearing jogging bottoms and white trainers, is seen moving through rush-hour traffic, past commuters scurrying for trains as he travels to Victoria Station.

Abedi also swaps his Sim card between phones and takes an untraced international call during the visit to the arena, where he walks the perimeter before going inside to the City Rooms.

Afterwards, he takes a taxi to a local Screwfix shop to buy electrical cable, halogen bulbs and rolls of tape before returning to his flat at 8.04pm.

Jurors heard that the next day he took the suitcase to Devell House, a block of flats in Rusholme, south Manchester, where on April 14 the brothers had left a Nissan Micra, used to store bomb-making chemicals and equipment, until Salman returned from Libya to carry out the final stage of the plan.

There Salman Abedi loads the suitcase and is seen struggling to drag the heavy case up steps back at the city centre apartment, where he assembled the device, it is alleged.

Hashem Abedi has told the jury he is not an extremist and had no idea of his brother's plan.

He denies 22 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder encompassing the injured survivors, and conspiring with his brother to cause explosions.

The trial continues.