A man whose bank details were used by brothers Salman and Hashem Abedi to buy chemicals to construct the bomb used in the Manchester Arena attack has been spared jail.
The terrorists paid £300 into the account of Yahya Werfalli, 25, two months before the May 2017 explosion and went on to make two purchases of hydrogen peroxide totalling £185.92 from Amazon.
Werfalli rang his bank after both purchases and dishonestly claimed fraudulent transactions had taken place as he attempted to get refunds.
The bank became suspicious and no money was returned.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation but Manchester Crown Court heard he had no idea what the Abedis intended to buy, nor that they were plotting mass murder.
Yahya Werfalli, 25, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation but Manchester Crown Court heard he had no idea what the Abedis intended to buy, nor that they were plotting mass murder
Salman blew himself up with a homemade bomb packed with shrapnel, murdering 22 bystanders in the foyer of Manchester Arena at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.
Earlier this year Hashem was jailed for a minimum of 55 years for the Arena bombing.
The prosecution argued Werfalli had not taken any steps to establish what his details were being used for and asked the judge to take into account the deaths and injuries caused by the bomb.
But Judge Patrick Field QC said it would be wrong to attribute harm to the defendant in circumstances he could not have foreseen.
Judge Field said he was not ‘blind’ to the atrocity at the Arena but he could not let the ‘inevitable emotional response’ to it influence the sentence in this case.
He said: ‘The group activity that you were involved in with the Abedis was fraud.
‘If it had been something more serious, you would have been charged with something more serious.
‘The attempt that has been made to impute their crimes to you is, I’m afraid, based upon a misunderstanding.’
Following Salman Abedi’s suicide bombing on May 22 2017, a number of people were arrested by counter-terrorism police including Werfalli whose home in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, was searched.
He was interviewed under caution on nine occasions between May 27 and June 4 of that year and was said to have answered all questions, the court heard, and made admissions about the bank fraud.
Salman Abedi blew himself up with a homemade bomb packed with shrapnel, murdering 22 bystanders in the foyer of Manchester Arena at the end of an Ariana Grande concert
Earlier this year Hashem Abedi was jailed for a minimum of 55 years for the Arena bombing
Werfalli was recruited by the Abedis who were already running other scams but played a ‘significant role’ in making the false representations, said the judge.
The defendant also admitted taking part in similar frauds but had not been caught before.
Anthony Barraclough, defending, said his client, who had no previous convictions, had been ‘duped’ and ‘exploited’ by the terrorist brothers.
Werfalli, who is studying in Buckingham, was said to be remorseful for committing the fraud and had taken steps to rehabilitate himself.
He must complete 80 hours of unpaid work as part of his community sentence and will be brought back before Judge Field if he breaches the order.
Hashem Abedi used Werfalli’s details to place the Amazon orders via a fake account for delivery to an unoccupied house in Manchester.