Europe

Thursday 21 August 2014

Mayhem in court as Lee Rigby killers sentenced to life in jail

David Barrett and Claire Carter

Published 27/02/2014 | 02:30

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The Islamist killers of British army drummer Lee Rigby erupted into violence in an Old Bailey courtroom in London as they were sentenced for murder.

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Michael Adebolajo (29) and Michael Adebowale (22) had to be manhandled out of court by security guards after being told by Mr Justice Sweeney that their crime was a "betrayal of Islam".

Adebowale stood up and shouted: "I swear by Allah that America and Britain will never have any safety. Allah Akbar."

His co-defendant, Adebolajo, also stood up and began shouting before dock officers grabbed both killers and wrestled them to the floor.

Adebolajo was manhandled down the stairs, and his co-defendant was held to the floor and cuffed before being carried downstairs head first.

Mr Rigby's widow, Rebecca, was left sobbing uncontrollably at the scenes.

Judge Sweeney resumed his sentencing to give Adebolajo a whole-life tariff, meaning he will die in jail.

Adebowale was given life with a minimum term of 45 years.

The pair had reacted to the judge's comments that as they became extremists they "espoused" views that "are a betrayal of Islam".

Adebowale called out "that's a lie" and "it's not a betrayal of Islam" as the judge told them they had been radicalised.

The killers struck the 25-year-old soldier with a car, knocking him unconscious, near his barracks in Woolwich, south-east London, in May last year before hacking him to death and dumping his body in the road.

A bystander recorded Adebolajo, a married father of six, making sickening boasts immediately after Mr Rigby had been attacked and virtually decapitated. The footage captured Adebolajo saying: "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."

As he continued to sentence the pair in their absence, Judge Sweeney said: "You have both been convicted of the barbaric murder of Lee Rigby," and said he was sure it was a murder with a "terrorist connection."

He said the pair had not shown any regret for the killing and in the case of Adebolajo there was no mitigation.

The murderers had been surrounded by nine dock officers during the two-hour hearing.

Judge Sweeney had warned both men they needed to remain quiet while they were sentenced and later apologised to those in court "that you all had to witness what happened in the dock".

After the sentencing, Mr Rigby's family said Adebolajo and Adebowale had received the "right prison terms", adding, "we feel satisfied that justice has been served for Lee".

HEINOUS

In court, a statement from Mr Rigby's widow and mother of his son, Rebecca Rigby, was read out, in which she said: "I know my son will grow up and see images of his dad that no son should ever have to endure, and there is nothing I can do to change this."

Both killers were born into Christian families and converted to Islam.

They were convicted of murder last December but their sentencing was put on hold while the Court of Appeal decided whether judges were free to impose whole-life tariffs following a controversial ruling by European judges.

Last week appeal judges backed existing British laws which say that in "exceptional" cases the most heinous criminals can be sent to jail for the rest of their lives.

The attack on Mr Rigby was the first terrorist-related murder on British soil since the July 7 bombings in 2005. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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