Manchester Arena bombing accused 'tried to get me to buy explosives', Old Bailey jury told

A former friend of the man accused of plotting the Manchester Arena bombing said the defendant made up a story about a generator when he asked him to buy sulphuric acid.

The witness, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told jurors that his father discouraged him from aiding Hashem Abedi's request to source materials online because he had concerns about it being used to make bombs.

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

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

Read more: Manchester Arena bomber lived 'gangster lifestyle' before becoming more religious, Old Bailey trial told​

Abedi's brother, Salman, detonated his suicide bomb on May 22 2017, killing 22 and injuring hundreds of others as thousands of men, women and children left the Ariana Grande pop concert.

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.

Hashem was arrested in Libya, where he was allegedly tortured, the day after the atrocity before being sent back to the UK to face police questions amid prosecution claims he was complicit in sourcing and stockpiling components for the bomb.

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

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Giving evidence in person at the Old Bailey, the witness said he "believed" Hashem when he allegedly asked him to buy sulphuric acid from Amazon, using his own account.

The witness said: "He said that his brother tipped a battery and the generator stopped working. He asked me very kindly. He just asked me for a favour. I did not want to let him down so I said yes."

But the witness, who is from the Midlands, said he did not have any money so asked his father to help.

Prosecutor Duncan Penny QC asked him: "Did your father tell you that he was concerned about acid because it can be used to manufacture explosives?"

The witness replied: "Yes, he did."

He added: "I asked him to buy it. Straight away (he) refused it. He said 'this is dodgy, don't buy this online'."

Asked why, the witness said it was because Hashem was "from Manchester", adding his father was concerned it could be used to make explosives.

The witness said he "100 per cent believed" Hashem's reason for sourcing the acid, adding: "It wasn't that I thought he was going to do something dodgy."

Also in crime: Brother of Manchester Arena bomber 'helped to make explosives', Old Bailey jurors told

The witness said Hashem had repeatedly tried to contact him by phone and text in the following days.

He said: "I just did not want to. I felt like I let him down. I did not want to face him on the phone in case he was disappointed in me because Hashem used to do a lot of favours for me."

He added: "I did not have a clue this would happen."

The witness told jurors he first met Hashem at a party in 2015.

The court heard they would party and take drugs in the months leading up to the blast, including on a trip to Amsterdam, much to Salman's disgust.

Under cross-examination from defence counsel Stephen Kamlish QC, the witness said: "His brother didn't want to see him (Hashem) with me - I am a bad influence, apparently.

"I think he (Hashem) was taking drugs because he knew what his brother was going to do."

He said Hashem initially dressed in western clothes but after he visited Saudi Arabia in 2015 he came back "more religious" and advised his friend to pray more, jurors heard.

The trial continues.