Soldier Lee Rigby was the victim of “a cowardly and callous murder” by two men who wanted witnesses to see “the consequence of their barbarous acts”, a jury in England has heard.
The Woolwich murder victim Lee Rigby.
The Fusilier was hit by a car and attacked with a knife and a meat cleaver as he walked back to Woolwich Barracks in south east London on May 22.
Prosecutor Richard Whittam QC told jurors at the Old Bailey that Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, drove a Vauxhall Tigra “straight at” him, at around 30mph to 40mph.
He 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.”
Adebolajo tried to decapitate the soldier while Adebowale stabbed and cut him, the jury heard.
Mr Whittam said: “They both attacked the motionless body of Lee Rigby. He was repeatedly stabbed and it appears it was Michael Adebolajo, the first defendant, who made a serious and almost successful attempt to decapitate Lee Rigby with multiple blows to his neck made with the meat cleaver.
“At the same time as Michael Adebolajo used the meat cleaver, Michael Adebowale was using a knife to stab and cut at Lee Rigby’s body.”
A view of the scene after the killing.
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 court heard that the two men were also armed with a gun.
Mr Whittam told the jury of eight women and four men that the firearm was part of the plan the pair had made, and was used partly to frighten off members of the public before the emergency services arrived.
As a police vehicle swung into Artillery Place, both men moved towards it, Mr Whittam said, and Adebolajo raised the meat cleaver above his head.
Adebolajo and Adebowale are both accused of attempting to murder a police officer, and conspiracy to murder a police officer on or before May 22.
An aerial view of the scene after the killing.
Armed officers shot both defendants and they were arrested, the court heard.
Mr Whittam said: “Lethal force can only be used where there is a real danger to life, as clearly there was here.”
The events took place within yards of the Mulgrave Primary School, Mr Whittam said, to which children were returning from a visit to the library. Members of the public turned them back to avoid the “awful” scene.
Young and old people, as well as a heavily pregnant woman, did witness what happened, he added.