The family of a mother-of-three killed in the Manchester Arena bombings in 2017 have released a statement saying their lives 'changed completely' in the wake of the 'most horrific' of crimes.

The statement comes on the first day of the two-day sentencing hearing of Manchester Arena bomb plotter Hashem Abedi, which began at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.

Company secretary Michelle Kiss, 45, from Whalley, was waiting with a friend in the arena foyer to collect their daughters who had gone to the concert together.

In a statement read to court, her father Michael Thompson told how the family were 'going from day to day on autopilot'.

He said their 'lives changed completely' in the wake of the 'most horrific' of crimes.

He said: "We believe there is more good in the world than bad but unfortunately it only takes one bad person to devastate and destroy so many lives."

Abedi, now 22, was allegedly involved in planning the suicide attack on May 22, 2017.

His brother Salman Abedi, 22, detonated an explosive vest as music fans left an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 people and injuring 260 more.

Along with Mrs Kiss, eight-year-old Saffie Roussos from Leyland and Olivia Campbell-Hardy, 15, from Bury, and 28-year-old John Atkinson from Radcliffe were among the victims.

Before the attack, the defendant, who was raised in Manchester, left Britain and travelled to Libya.

He was arrested in Tripoli and extradited to the UK in July last year to face 22 charges of murder, one count for each victim.

Now 23, he is being sentenced for 22 counts of murder, as well as one count of attempted murder encompassing the survivors, and plotting to cause an explosion likely to endanger life following his conviction by jurors in March.

His older brother, Salman, 22 at the time of the atrocity, died in the attack.

Abedi was not present in court on Wednesday, having sacked his defence team part-way through the trial and effectively withdrew from the case by refusing to leave prison.

The judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, said Abedi, who remains legally unrepresented, was in the court building but was refusing to attend court.

Addressing prosecutor Duncan Penny QC, the judge said: "Generally for trial - albeit this is a sentencing hearing - the court is prohibited from proceeding if the defendant is absent from the court, unless the defendant has waived his right to attend.

"I have required in this case Hashem Abedi to be brought to Central Criminal Court. That is what I have done.

"You will also no doubt be aware that the court has no legal right to direct a prison officer to use force to compel a prisoner to attend court.

"My understanding is that having been brought to this building, Hashem Abedi has refused to come into the court room.

"That is a matter for HM Probation Service rather than myself. Force cannot be used."

The court heard Abedi was offered representation for the hearing, but declined.

The court was also told how Abedi met with solicitors last month, with a view to arranging possible legal representation.

However, a letter to the court from the solicitors said Abedi declined.

The letter said: "Mr Abedi made it clear to us that firstly he will not be attending the sentencing either in person or remotely, and secondly he doesn't wish to be represented by us or any other firm of solicitors."

The judge said: "He has had every opportunity and has been encouraged to have legal representation.

"But he has made it clear and I am satisfied that he does not wish to be present at this hearing."

Mr Penny QC said Abedi would have been eligible for a whole-life sentence were he not under the age of 21 at the time of the bombing.

Speaking in front of families of the victims, the judge told the Old Bailey: "The reality is if the accused had been over the age of 21, as was his brother who died in the incident, it would have been the prosecution submissions this was a case where a whole-life order was appropriate."

He said it was not a matter for the courts but a 'matter for Parliament who pass legislation which prevents the court of making a whole-life order in the circumstances of this case'.

The sentencing continues.