Friday 19 January 2018

Soldier Rigby 'attacked like joint of meat', court is told

A court artist sketch of the two men accused of the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby, Michael Adebolajo (left) and Michael Adebowale (second left).
A court artist sketch of the two men accused of the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby, Michael Adebolajo (left) and Michael Adebowale (second left).

A SOLDIER was set upon by Muslim converts like a butcher "attacking a joint of meat" as they tried to hack off his head, London's Old Bailey has heard.

Footage of the moment two men allegedly ran down drummer Lee Rigby before attacking him with a cleaver and knives was shown to the jury in his murder trial.

The CCTV clip showed the car, allegedly driven by Michael Adebolajo, swerve across a road and hit the 25-year-old from behind as he crossed the road.

Mr Rigby (pictured) was knocked unconscious by the collision and his motionless body was then attacked by Mr Adebolajo (28) and his co-defendant Michael Adebowale (22).

One witness described it as like a "butcher attacking a joint of meat".

Members of Mr Rigby's family, including his mother Lyn and wife Rebecca, had just left the court moments before the scenes were shown. They left, looking visibly upset, as footage of Mr Rigby walking along a street minutes before his death was shown.

The jury was told that the car was driven "straight at" Fusilier Rigby at speeds of 30-40mph.

Prosecutor Richard Whittam QC told the jury: "What unfolded after that had happened was shocking to those who observed it."

Shopkeeper Ibrahim Elidemir saw the driver leave the car with a "chopper" and said the passenger got out with a "knife in his hand", the court heard.

"He saw the driver attacking the throat of Lee Rigby with the chopper and the passenger stabbing him to the body," Mr Whittam said.

The men then left the car.

Mr Whittam said: "The driver was carrying a cleaver in his hand. He knelt down by Lee Rigby and took hold of his hair.

"He then repeatedly hacked at the right side of his neck just below the jawline."

Another eyewitness, electrician Thomas Seymour, saw a man attack the neck of Mr Rigby.

Mr Whittam told the jury: "Mr Seymour 'instantly believed that he was trying to cut the victim's head off'."

The jury was shown further images of the two men dragging Mr Rigby's body into the road.

Mr Adebolajo clutched a copy of the Koran in the dock as the prosecution began. Mr Adebolajo, from Romford in Essex, and Michael Adebowale, from Greenwich, deny murdering Mr Rigby and each deny attempting to murder a police officer on the same day, and conspiracy to murder a police officer on or before that day.

Earlier, the jurors were told that Mr Rigby was the victim of "a cowardly and callous murder" by the two men, who wanted witnesses to see "the consequence of their barbarous acts". After they hit the soldier with the car, Mr Whittam said: "Both men then dragged his body into the middle of the road.

"They wanted members of the public to see the consequence of what can only be described as their barbarous acts.

"They had committed, you may think, a cowardly and callous murder by deliberately attacking an unarmed man in plain clothes from behind, using a vehicle as a weapon, and then they murdered him and mutilated his body with that meat cleaver and knives."

BRAVERY

Mr Whittam told the jury that members of the public showed "bravery and decency" in the aftermath of the alleged attack.

"Such heinous behaviour is in distinct contrast to the bravery and decency shown by some of the members of the public present. Despite the abhorrence of the scene, one woman went to the lifeless body of Lee Rigby and stroked him to provide some comfort and humanity to what had unfolded. 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 shown CCTV and mobile phone footage of three armed police officers arriving at the scene in a marked BMW.

The officers, two men and a woman, are seen running from their car before one shoots Mr Adebowale and another uses a Taser on Mr Adebolajo. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Tom Whitehead

Irish Independent

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