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Tearful mum of Manchester victim, 19, says son was ‘more precious than gold’ as bomber’s brother refuses to attend court

THE tearful mum of a Manchester bombing victim said her son was “more precious than gold” as the bomber’s coward brother refused to attend court today.

Hashem Abedi, 22, helped his warped jihadi brother source shrapnel used in the homemade bomb that tore through the Manchester Arena in 2017.

The blast killed 22 people including an eight-year-old girl and left hundreds of others injured as gig-goers as they spilled out of an Ariana Grande concert.

Salman Abedi was killed in the terror attack, while brother Hashem was 2,000 miles away in Libya plotting further bloodshed around the world.

In March, he was convicted of 22 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder encompassing the injured survivors, and conspiring with his brother to cause explosions.

But while his brave victims’ families have come to court today for his sentencing, coward Hashem is refusing to leave his cell.

Emotional statements from the families of victims are being read to the court today.

Caroline Curry wept as she told how her 19-year-old son Liam had helped organise his dad’s funeral just months before the blast.

Paying tribute to her “other half”, she also spoke about how she will never see her son marry his girlfriend Chloe Rutherford, 17, who also died in the attack his future was taken away.

She also held up a picture of her tragic son as she addressed Hashem.

Ms Curry said: “You took from me something more precious than gold, a beautiful boy, inside and out.

“I want you to look at Liam and remember the beautiful boy that was snatched away.

“Your actions have caused this heartbreak. I just feel cheated. You took his future, my future, my family’s future.

“All we have now is heartbreak and dreams of what if.”

Chloe’s mum Lisa also read from an emotional statement as she revealed the Ariana Grande gig tickets had been a “Christmas present”.

She said her “heart snapped” when she received the call about the deadly blast.

She said: “We are lost, we are devastated, we feel the overwhelming loss of our gorgeous girl.

“As a family, we feel our loss every day.”

Lisa also wept as she told how the family need answers as they are “destroyed”.

She explained Chloe’s “utterly devastated” dad “misses his special time as dad’s taxi” listening to his daughter’s stories.

She added: “All he ever wanted to do was make sure she was safe, in his words – ‘I’m her dad after all’.

Figen Murray, whose son Martyn Hett, 29, was killed, said: “I still cannot go to bed before 11pm, it’s this 10.31 thing.

“I was asleep in bed when my son was dead on the floor, I’m still deeply ashamed of that and I probably always will be.”

She also spoke fondly of her talented son and Coronation Street superfan who revelled in the spotlight.

Tragically, he was due to go travelling around America and was “at the top of his game” before he was killed.

Georgina Callander’s dad Simon read out a powerful statement saying he “wants to die” after his 18-year-old daughter was killed.

He said: I don’t want to talk, I want to die.

“There have been many times since [the bombing] that if I had been near a gun I would be with her now.

“I will never get over Georgina’s death.”

A joint statement was also read out from the family of 14-year-old victim Nell Jones.

It read: “The grief of losing a child is like no other – it is all consuming.

“The pain is with us every day, it wraps around us until it suffocates us.”

Shameless Hashem – who stopped attending his trial all together as sickening details of the blast were read out – has today refused legal representation after sacking his team during the trial.

He will not receive a whole life sentence when he is jailed tomorrow as he was not over the age of 21 at the time the atrocity took place.

Hashem’s full role in the atrocity was revealed by police after the unanimous verdicts were given – with Hashem said to be “every bit as responsible” as his brother.

And chillingly, it emerged he may have been the ringleader in the murderous plot all along.

The sadistic brothers spent months hatching the bloodbath – using bank accounts of pals to buy chemicals online.

They also raided their mum’s £550-a-week benefit payments, which she continued to receive after she left the UK for Libya, to buy tools.

The pair flew back to Libya when friends noticed signs they had been radicalised but just days before the attack, Salman Abedi returned to Manchester.

Haunting CCTV caught him skulking around the arena at a Take That gig on a practice run.

And Hashem Abedi, a former electronics student, continued advising him by phone — and is believed to have been the last person he spoke to when he stopped at a bench on his way to the gig.

Salman later left for the nearby Arndale shopping centre where he bought batteries and a blue Kangol suitcase so he could move his bomb-making equipment to the flat he rented in Manchester city centre.

He was then caught in chilling CCTV images with a rucksack packed with thousands of nuts just 19 seconds before the deadly blast.

Salman Abedi waited for around an hour in the Manchester Arena foyer before parents and children left the gig at 10.30pm.

One minute later, he detonated the bomb as 359 people stood in the City Room – with 19 declared dead at the scene.

Among debris found after the blast were 1,675 nyloc nuts, 156 flanged nuts, 663 plain nuts and 11 fragments from Salman Abedi and his victims.

There were also screws recovered by investigators but they were so damaged they couldn’t be counted.

Images shown to jurors also feature charred clothing recovered from the scene and labels from vegetable oil used to make the bomb.

Other debris included fragments from a money tin decorated with the design of a £5 note also used to maim innocent gig-goers.

The youngest victim, Saffie-Rose Roussos, eight, suffered more than 70 external injuries, with 17 metal nuts in her body, and died from blood loss due to multiple injuries.

Jurors also heard Salman Abedi’s body was later recovered in four parts and he had to be identified by his DNA and fingerprints.

Forensic investigators later found more than 2,000 nuts from the homemade bomb at the scene.

After the blast, Hashem Abedi denied he was an extremist but the court heard his DNA was discovered in a Nissan Micra used to store packs of nails for the bomb.

Salman Abedi was captured in CCTV footage returning to the car after his Take That “practice run” four days before the terror attack.

The brothers were born in Manchester to Libyan parents and booked one-way tickets the country in April 2017 after stockpiling chemicals used to make the homemade explosive.

Salman Abedi then returned to his native Manchester on May 18 to carry out the atrocity.

Hashem repeatedly denied any knowledge of his brother’s plot and suggested he had been conned into believing the bomb parts were for household use.

He was arrested by Libyan authorities soon after the attack but an extradition bid proved difficult because of the civil war raging in the North African country.

The Sun on Sunday revealed the extradition bid cost UK taxpayers £123,000.

He then refused to defend himself at trial and stopped attending court – remaining absent from the dock as the verdicts were delivered in March.

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Barraclough said: “If you look at these two brothers, they are not kids caught in the headlights of something they don’t understand.

“These two men are the real deal, these are proper jihadis – you do not walk into a space like the Manchester Arena and kill yourself with an enormous bomb like that, taking 22 innocent lives with you, if you are not a proper jihadist.

“He was with his brother throughout the entire process of making this explosive and building this bomb, I believe he provided encouragement right up to the end.

“This was all about the sick ideology of Islamic State and this desire for martyrdom.”

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