Manchester Arena: Man sentenced for fraud linked to attack

By Daniel De Simone
BBC News

Published
Image caption,
Yahya Werfalli admitted two counts of fraud by false representation Manchester Magistrates' Court last month

A friend of the Manchester Arena bomber whose bank details were used to buy chemicals for the bomb has been handed a 12-month community order.

Manchester Crown Court heard Yahya Werfalli's bank details were used to buy hydrogen peroxide on Amazon.

The chemical was acquired by brothers Salman and Hashem Abedi for the bomb that killed 22 people in May 2017.

Judge Patrick Field QC told the court Werfalli "had no idea what the Abedi brothers were up to".

He said the defendant - who had engaged in other frauds in the past - would have been charged with a more serious offence had his own activity with the Abedis involved more than fraud.

Werfalli, a university student from Buckingham, admitted two counts of fraud by false representation last month.

Families of some of those killed in the attack were present in court to see Werfalli sentenced.

"I am not blind to the terrible events that unfolded at the arena," said the judge, who explained: "I must not let the inevitable emotional response to that influence the sentence in this case."

He said Werfalli, who lived in Manchester at the time of the frauds, must complete 80 hours of unpaid work and 20 days of "rehabilitation requirement".

Fraudulent

Prosecutor Harriet Lavin said the case concerned bank frauds in March and April 2017 in which the defendant planned with Salman and Hashem Abedi for them to order products online using his bank details.

In order to obtain refunds, he then planned to falsely claim to his bank, RBS, that he had not made the purchases.

The court was told the Abedi brothers put £300 into the defendant's bank account and the pair placed orders on Amazon using an account they had set up using Werfalli's card details.

Ms Lavin said: "Once the order had been delivered, the defendant then contacted his bank and reported the purchase as fraudulent.

"It was anticipated that the bank would then refund the money with little scrutiny as it would have been a low value amount.

"Salman and Hashem Abedi would thereby get the products they wanted with no trace back to themselves."

Image source, Facebook
Image caption,
Yahya Werfalli was a "dupe" who had been "exploited by the terrorists," court hears

The court heard the hydrogen peroxide was "used by the pair to construct the bomb that killed 22 people and seriously injured many more".

Ms Lavin said: "There is no evidence to suggest this defendant had any knowledge of the nature of the goods being purchased, or their intended purpose."

She said the goods were delivered to an address unconnected to the defendant and there was nothing on his phone to suggest he was in contact with Salman or Hashem Abedi around the time of the attack.

The court heard that, after being arrested following the attack, Werfalli described two meetings with the Abedi brothers in which plans for a fraud were discussed.

Anthony Barraclough, defending, said his client was a "dupe" who had been "exploited by the terrorists".

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