Court hears brutal eyewitness accounts of Rigby attack

Man tells Old Bailey ‘craziness’ of Woolwich incident made him think it was drug-related

Rebecca Rigby, widow of murdered British soldier Lee Rigby, returns to the Old Bailey courthouse in London following lunch recess, today. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters.

Rebecca Rigby, widow of murdered British soldier Lee Rigby, returns to the Old Bailey courthouse in London following lunch recess, today. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters.


The widow of British soldier Lee Rigby left court in tears today as jurors heard eyewitness accounts of how he was run over and attacked with a meat cleaver and knives.

Prosecutor Richard Whittam QC read statements made by members of the public who saw the Fusilier’s alleged murder near Woolwich barracks in south east London on May 22nd.

Saraj Miah, who was seen in a CCTV clip talking with a local shopkeeper near the scene, said after Fusilier Rigby was run over, two armed men got out of the car. One of the two attackers pointed a gun at him when he told them not to kill the soldier.

He said: “I thought that the two black men with knives were going to kill him. I told them not to kill him. They did not listen to me.”

One attacker slashed Fusilier Rigby’s throat while the other stabbed him, the court heard.

“The black man in the passenger seat with knives in both his hands stabbed the fallen man six times in his chest.”

He described the man who had been driving the car walking around “as if nothing had happened”.

Mr Miah said the two men then “threw the body on the left lane of the road”.

“I was very shocked by the incident,” he added. “I could not sleep for two weeks.”

Fusilier Rigby’s widow Rebecca left the oak-panelled courtroom in tears as the statements were read.

Two men, Michael Adebolajo (28) and Michael Adebowale (22) are on trial at the Old Bailey for Fusilier Rigby’s murder, which they deny. They are also accused of attempting to murder a police officer and conspiracy to murder a police officer.

Another witness Amanda Bailey, whose statement was also read by Mr Whittam, described her shock at seeing the attack on the soldier, who she said looked “like a young man coming home from college”.

She said: “The car sped up and went straight towards the young man. He didn’t seem to mind the car or notice at all.”

Initially she thought that one of the attackers was reaching for his phone to call an ambulance, but then realised he had a knife.

“I thought that he was reaching for a phone to call an ambulance or the police, so I stopped trying to phone the police. I thought ‘don’t worry he’s doing it’. I was shocked when I saw that he had a knife.”

Ms Bailey described one of the men trying to decapitate Fusilier Rigby.

“I was so shocked all I could do was sit there and stare and what happened, I couldn’t believe what was going on. He was determined and he wasn’t going to stop. He didn’t care. It was broad daylight and this man didn’t care,” she said.

“The whole incident took about two minutes, but I can’t be sure. It felt like a life time.”

Thomas Seymour, an electrician for Greenwich Borough Council, was driving his van back to his depot when he came across the incident.

The court heard he saw two men standing at the side of the road in front of the crashed car with knives and a meat cleaver in their hands.

Mr Seymour said he saw one of the men stab the soldier with “forceful” actions between the chest and belly button “10 or 20 times”.

He said the other man was “hacking the victim’s head”. “He looked at first like he was hitting or slapping him across the head,” he said.

One of the men gestured towards the victim and nudged the other man, before the pair ran back to the body and attacked it again, Mr Seymour said.

“Due to the craziness of what was going on around me, I assumed it was gang or drug-related.”

Mr Seymour said he did not want to be the next man attacked so drove away and saw the men continue stabbing the body in the wing mirror.