The 23-year-old again refused come up from his cell at the Old Bailey to be in courtroom two as the judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, told him he would spend at least 55 years in prison before he could even be considered for parole. Abedi was warned he could die in prison after the judge told him he “may never be released”.
Abedi, born and raised in Manchester, was accused of showing “contempt” to the families of those he and his suicide bomber brother Salman Abedi killed more than three years earlier by not coming into the dock.
His co-conspirator and older brother, Salman, killed himself in the blast.
Sentencing him on Thursday afternoon, the judge said: “Although Salman Abedi was directly responsible, it was clear the defendant took an integral part in the planning.
“The motivation for them was to advance the ideology of Islamism, a matter distinct to and abhorrent to the vast majority for those who follow the Islamic faith.
“The defendant and his brother were equally culpable for the deaths and injuries caused.
“The stark reality is that these were atrocious crimes, large in their scale, deadly in their intent, and appalling in their consequences.
Manchester Arena bomb plotter Hashem Abedi has been sentenced
Hashem Abedi was warned he could die in prison after the judge told him he “may never be released”
“The despair and desolation of the bereaved families has been palpable.”
As Abedi was aged under 21 at the time of the atrocity in May 2017, he could not be given a whole life jail sentence.
The judge – who put on record his tribute to “the tremendous dignity and courage” of the families who attended court – said the 1,024 days Abedi spent remanded in custody will count towards the overall sentence.
He added: “He may never be released.”
The police chief whose force brought Abedi to justice has said he should never be freed even though he could not be given a whole life sentence.
Hashem Abedi could not be given a whole life jail sentence
Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: “From a personal perspective, and I know from many of my colleagues, we would very much like to have seen him receive a whole life tariff.
“Nevertheless he is going to spend a considerable part of his life in jail, where he belongs.
“And others, at some stage, many decades from now, may have to make a decision as to whether he ever gets released on licence.
“But yes, I mean I think all of us would have liked to have seen a whole life tariff because of this awful, awful, murderous act that he and his brother carried out.”
Asked if he expected Abedi to die in jail, Mr Hopkins replied: “I would suspect in all likelihood, yes, but as I say, that’s a decision for others, many, many years from now.”
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A police van carrying Hashem Abedi arrives at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court
Hashem Abedi’s suicide bomber brother Salman Abedi
Abedi, of Fallowfield in south Manchester, 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.
It was Abedi’s older brother, 22-year-old Salman, who detonated the suicide bomb in the foyer of Manchester Arena at 10.31pm on May 22 2017, as thousands of men, women and children left a concert by pop star Ariana Grande.
Together, the Abedis spent months ordering, stockpiling and transporting the deadly materials required for their murderous act, using multiple mobile phones, addresses and runaround vehicles to craft their bomb.
The brothers joined their parents in Libya the month before the blast amid concerns the siblings were becoming radicalised.
However, Salman returned to the UK on May 18.
Salman Abedi killed himself in the blast
He bought the final components needed for the bomb, rented a flat in the city centre in which to build it, and carried out reconnaissance on the arena before finally executing the plot – the chilling final moments of which were caught on CCTV.
The family of Kelly Brewster, 32, murdered in the attack, said: “His sentence will never compare to the sentence we have to live for the rest of our lives without Kelly.
“One day he will be free but we will forever be broken.
Boris Johnson said his jailing was “an opportunity to reflect on the importance of tolerance, community and kindness”.
“Those who were taken from us will never be forgotten, nor will the spirit of the people of Manchester who came together to send a clear message to the entire world that terrorists will never prevail.
“My thoughts remain with the survivors, and with the friends and families of victims, who have shown remarkable courage and dignity.
“I would also like to express my thanks to the police and all those who have worked tirelessly to deliver justice for the families.
“Today’s sentencing is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of tolerance, community and kindness – values which are fundamental to our country, and which we saw in Manchester in the face of unimaginable tragedy.”