- Footage shown to jurors shows a car approaching Fusilier Rigby
- There were gasps in the court room, and his relatives left in tears
- Prosecutors claim Michael Adebolajo, 28, was driving the Vauxhall Tigra
- Both Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, 22, are on trial at the Old Bailey
The horrific last moments of soldier Lee Rigby were played out in court yesterday as a jury was told a Muslim convert tried to hack off his head ‘like a butcher attacking a joint of meat’.
Silence was followed by gasps as the jury was shown CCTV footage of the 25-year-old fusilier crossing the road outside his barracks and being run down at 40mph by a car, flinging him on to the bonnet before it smashed into a sign post.
He was then mutilated and ‘almost decapitated’ by Michael Adebowale, 22, and Michael Adebolajo, 28, it is claimed.
Eyewitnesses watched in horror as Adebowale hacked at his victim’s neck up to nine times as he lay motionless on the pavement near Woolwich Barracks in South-East London. The two men, armed with a rusty ‘cowboy’ revolver, then dragged his body into the road so everyone could see their ‘barbarous acts’, the court heard.
Before impact: This frame, taken from CCTV footage, shows a Vauxhall Tigra just about to crash into Lee Rigby as he crosses the road
Some of yesterday’s evidence was too much for Mr Rigby’s mother Lyn, fiancee Aimee and estranged wife Rebecca, who fled the Old Bailey courtroom in tears.
Richard Whittam, QC, prosecuting, said father-of-one Mr Rigby was singled out because he was wearing a Help For Heroes sweatshirt and carrying a military rucksack. The prosecutor said his attackers believed they were avenging the deaths of Muslims in war zones including Afghanistan and Iraq.
Explaining why they then dumped his body in the road, Mr Whittam said: ‘They wanted the members of the public present to see the consequences of their barbarous acts. They had committed a cowardly and callous murder by deliberately attacking an unarmed man in civilian clothes from behind using a vehicle as a weapon and then they murdered him and mutilated his body with a meat cleaver and knives.’
Rant: Michael Adebolajo, one of the men accused of killing Fusilier Rigby, is shown shortly after the murder, hands covered in blood, swearing that ‘we will never stop fighting you’
The jury were shown chilling footage of Mr Rigby returning home to the barracks by train and on foot from his work at the Tower of London just before 3pm on May 22.
As he crossed the road he was suddenly hit from behind by a Vauxhall Tigra driven by Adebolajo, leaving him helpless on the ground.
One witness described how Adebolajo then knelt down and grabbed Mr Rigby’s hair before ‘repeatedly hacking’ at the right side of his neck with a ‘chopper’.
The court heard that at the same time Adebowale was using a knife to stab and cut at their victim’s body, which was lying in front of the vehicle.
Shopkeeper Saraj Miah, who described the car hitting Mr Rigby at a ‘terrible speed’, was threatened with a gun when he told the men, ‘Don’t kill him’.
Amanda Bailey, who stopped beside the scene in her Peugeot 205, saw Mr Rigby thrown into the air by the car. Mr Whittam said: ‘She saw that his eyes were open, but they looked frozen. He wasn’t moving or making any noise.’
Mrs Bailey, who saw Adebolajo swinging the meat cleaver in the air, told police: ‘I was so shocked that all I could do was sit there and stare at what was happening. I couldn’t believe what was going on. He was determined and he wasn’t going to stop. He didn’t care.’
Gary Perkins described Adebolajo’s violent actions as being ‘like a butcher attacking a joint of meat’. The prosecutor said: ‘He saw Michael Adebolajo sawing at the neck of Lee Rigby with a “machete” and the other man trying to cut bits off the body by hacking away at it.
‘He did not see Lee Rigby move and thought he was already dead.’
Council electrician Thomas Seymour then saw Adebolajo attack Mr Rigby and ‘instantly believed’ that he was trying to cut his head off.
Mobile phone footage of Adebolajo ranting to members of the public with blood-stained hands was shown to the jury.
‘These solders go to our land, kill our people, so an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,’ he said. ‘You will never be safe until you leave us alone.’
But Mr Whittam said: ‘To seek out and kill political opponents on the grounds that you say that they have oppressed your countrymen or people of your religion is still murder.’
The court heard that children returning to nearby Mulgrave Primary School after a visit to the library were sent back by terrified bystanders.
CCTV cameras showed teachers and pupils unwittingly wandering towards the bloody scene of horror as the two men stood in the street brandishing knives and a gun.
When police arrived at the scene a marksman fired at Adebolajo until he dropped to the ground after he ran towards officers with a meat cleaver over his head, the court heard.
The Scotland Yard officer stepped in to save a woman colleague who was struggling to get her gun out of its holster as she sat in their police car. Mr Whittam said: ‘She saw he had a meat cleaver or machete. She immediately thought, “He’s going to kill me”.’
CCTV footage shows Adebolajo falling down like a rag doll as the first of eight shots are heard. His alleged accomplice Adebowale then collapses but still manages to aim the gun – which was later found to be a revolver made nearly a century ago which was unloaded – at police.
A third officer then shot Adebowale before police stripped both men of their weapons and started the urgent first aid which saved their lives.
Turn: The Vauxhall Tigra begins to veer towards Fusilier Rigby
Yesterday Adebowale, also known as Ismail Ibn Abdullah, and Adebolajo, also known as Mujaahid Abu Hamza, sat in the dock in silence. Adebolajo held a copy of the Koran.
Adebowale, known to his family by his middle name Tobi, was brought up as a Christian and converted to Islam when he was 17, the court heard.
Relatives of Mr Rigby sat only yards from the men, screened from view by paper stuck to the glass of the side of the dock.
Mr Rigby, from Middleton, Rochdale, had served in the Army for almost seven years, the Old Bailey was told. After joining in July 2006, he was posted to the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, and served as a machine gunner.
He was posted to bases in Cyprus, Jordan, Germany and Helmand, Afghanistan, and took part in ceremonial public duties, including Beating the Retreat on Horse Guards’ Parade.
At the time of his death he was working as a recruiter for the Army and assisted with duties at the regimental HQ at the Tower of London.
Adebolajo and Adebowale deny murdering Mr Rigby, conspiracy to murder a police officer and attempted murder. They admit possessing a firearm.
The trial continues.
Inches away: A final shot shows the car just about to make impact
‘It was an eye for an eye, ranted the extremist’
Michael Adebolajo ranted at bystanders about how the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby was ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth’.
The Islamic extremist launched a series of tirades at bystanders, police and medics, even handing a note to one trying to justify his ‘heinous behaviour’, the jury heard.
Mobile phone footage was shown to the court of Adebolajo, 28, clutching a meat cleaver and with his hands dripping in blood, making his speech as the motionless, ‘almost decapitated’ body of Rigby lay nearby.
In the clip, he says: ‘The only reason we’ve killed this person is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers.
‘It’s an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. These soldiers go to our land, kill, bomb our people.
‘Remove your governments – they don’t care about you. You think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our guns? You think politicians are going to die?
‘No, it’s going to be the average guy, like you, and your children. So get rid of them – tell them to bring our troops back so we can all live in peace. Leave our land.’
Victim: Fusilier Rigby can be seen minutes before his death getting off a DLR train at Woolwich Station
Before being shot by police alongside his alleged accomplice Michael Adebowale, Adebolajo hands a rambling, handwritten letter to passerby Amanda Donnelly Martin. Addressed to ‘my beloved children’, he tells them that to ‘fight Allah’s enemies is an obligation’.
As paramedics try to treat his gunshot wounds, he said: ‘Please let me lay here, I don’t want anyone to die, I just want the soldiers out of my country.
‘Your government is wrong, I did it for my God. I wish the bullets had killed me so I can join my friends and family.’
As he was being lifted into the ambulance, the jury heard, he continued: ‘I want to thank the person who shot me.’
And while one of the paramedics was trying to stem his wound he told them: ‘Allah gave me this arm and you can do what you want with it.’
Richard Whittam, QC, prosecuting, said: ‘Adebolajo then said that British soldiers were killing and raping women in his land and that the British soldiers deserved to die.’
The court heard he kept talking about living in peace under Sharia Law and ‘constantly referred to his Muslim faith and his hatred for Christianity and British soldiers’. He refused painkillers and to be touched by any female staff in hospital.
A few days later he was released and interviewed by police, telling them: ‘I am a Muslim extremist, this may be the only chance you meet one.’
Children: Schoolchildren near the scene of the murder were shepherded away
The Angels of Woolwich who put compassion before their safety
Women raced to the side of the lifeless soldier even as his bloodied killers stood over his body, the Old Bailey was told.
CCTV footage showed the women, later dubbed the ‘angels of Woolwich’, kneeling at Lee Rigby’s side.
Their bravery and decency was in distinct contrast to the barbarism of the two killers, said Richard Whittam, QC, prosecuting.
‘Despite the abhorrence of the scene one woman went up to the lifeless body of Lee Rigby and stroked him to provide some comfort and humanity to what had unfolded,’ he said. ‘Others went to see if they could provide first aid.
‘Another woman engaged Michael Adebolajo in conversation despite the fact that he was still holding the meat cleaver and his hands were covered in blood.’
The jury was told Amanda Donnelly Martin and her daughter Gemini comforted the soldier as Ingrid Loyau-Kennet spoke to Adebolajo and Adebowale.
A third woman, Vikki Cave, a trained first aider, ran to the body but was told there was ‘nothing to be done’, Mr Whittam said.
In the dock: Michael Adebolajo, 28, left, and Michael Adebowale, 22, right, surrounded by prison officers as they stand accused of murdering Fusilier RIgby
The court was told Miss Cave said to one of the men: ‘Are you going to hurt us?’ and he replied: ‘No, the women and the children are safe. You need to keep back when the police and the soldiers get here.’
Witness Tina Nimmo, who had been in a car with her daughter and her grandchild, also approached the alleged attackers. Mr Whittam said: ‘She saw the men drag Lee Rigby into the road. She warned others, “Go back, he’s got a gun, go back” but many of them ignored her and came to watch.’
One bus passenger, also trained in first aid, demanded to be let off so that she could try to help.
The court heard that in the confusion a paramedic rapid response vehicle arrived at the scene, but the driver left when he saw knives in the hands of the defendants. He was then kept away from the scene by a police officer until he was told it was safe, even though civilians remained near the gunmen.
Other bystanders ran to intercept two classes of children walking back to Mulgrave Primary School from a trip to the library.