Heartbroken families have branded the brother of the Manchester Arena bomber “a coward” after he refused to enter a courtroom to receive his life sentence.

Hashem Abedi, 23, was given a minimum 55-year sentence after a court found he was “just as guilty” as his brother, Salman, who carried out the suicide bomb attack in Manchester in May 2017.

Paul Hett, who lost his son Martyn, told Sky News: “Hashem Abedi couldn’t even be man enough to come to court to hear how he had affected these people.

Manchester bombing sentence
The mother of bombing victim Martyn Hett says she has a life sentence

“We’ve spent two days listening to harrowing details of lives that have been totally shattered, not just the 22 that lost their loved ones but the hundreds of lives changed forever.

“I’m sure the parole board will ensure that this coward never sees the light of day again.”

(Left and centre) Michael and Joanne Hurley the parents of Megan Hurley, 15, a victim of the Manchester Arena bombing, leave the Old Bailey in London, after terrorist Hashem Abedi was handed a record-breaking 55-year minimum term.
Image: Michael and Joanne Hurley lost Megan, 15, in the attack

Sharon Goodman’s 15-year-old granddaughter, Olivia, also died in the attack which happened in the closing moments of an Ariana Grande concert.

She told Sky News: “I think it’s contemptible, it’s arrogant, I find it very disrespectful that he didn’t come to court.”

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Her husband, Steve added: “It’s obvious he couldn’t face up to his actions.”

The couple, who watched the Old Bailey sentencing via video link in Manchester with several other families, said they “felt numb” after hearing the sentence and that “whatever he [Abedi] was given, nothing would bring Olivia back”.

Hashem Abedi
Image: Hashem Abedi was sentenced to a minimum of 55 years

It’s been more than three years since the couple lost their granddaughter, who they describe as a girl who “just had love and a smile”.

“I don’t think I’ll ever understand how the Abedis came to that point where they felt they had to not only endanger other people’s lives but blow themselves up,” Mrs Goodman added, “I cannot understand it, I cannot comprehend it.”

For the families, and the hundreds of injured, Hashem Abedi’s sentencing is “one step closer to peace.”

“We still have lots of questions,” Steve Goodman says.

He hopes the public inquiry into the attack, due to begin next month, will help answer them.