Men dragged butchered soldier into middle of London street, court told
Lee Rigby knocked down by car beofre being attacked with cleaver
Rebecca Rigby, the widow of murdered British fusilier Lee Rigby, arrives at the Old Bailey to attend the first day of the trial of Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale today. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty
Two men tried to behead a British soldier in a “barbarous” killing on a London street, hacking at his body “like a butcher attacking a joint of meat” after running him over, a court was told today.
Michael Adebolajo (28) and Michael Adebowale (22) dragged the lifeless body of Fusilier Lee Rigby, a veteran of the Afghan War, into the middle of the street so horrified members of the public could see what they had done, prosecutor Richard Whittam said at the start of the men’s trial.
They deny what Mr Whittam called a “cowardly and callous murder” by knocking mr Rigby down with a car as he crossed a street in Woolwich, southeast London, on the afternoon of May 22nd before setting upon his unconscious body with a meat cleaver and knives.
“He was repeatedly stabbed and it appears it was Michael Adebolajo who made a serious and almost successful attempt to decapitate Lee Rigby with multiple blows to his neck made with the meat cleaver,” Whittam said.
“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,” he added.
The jury of eight women and four men was told Mr Adebolajo, who was carrying a Koran on the day of the attack, had bought a set of five knives and a sharpener the day before. Mr Whittam said it appeared he had picked up Mr Adebowale, who had converted to Islam at 17, on the morning of the killing.
The court fell silent as the jury were shown closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the moment the Vauxhall Tigra car drove at Mr Rigby.
There were gasps in the courtroom as his body was thrown onto the car’s windscreen. Mr Rigby’s family were among those watching, some close to tears.
Earlier, the court was shown CCTV footage of Mr Rigby, who held a recruiting post and sometimes worked at the Tower of London, walking through Woolwich where his barracks was based.
He was wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with “Help for Heroes”, a military charity, and was carrying a camouflage-patterned rucksack.
Mr Whittam told the court Amanda Bailey had witnessed the car accelerate into Rigby before carrying him down the road and crashing into a road sign. The driver then got out carrying the cleaver.
“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,” Mr Whittam said. “He was using considerable force, bringing his hand into the air each time before he struck.”