Men go on trial for soldier's murder

Defendants deny carrying out attack with meat cleaver, knives and revolver

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 November, 2013, 4:40am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 November, 2013, 7:03am


Two men staged a "barbarous" attack on a British soldier, knocking him down with a car before mutilating him with knives and a cleaver as they attempted to behead him, the jury heard at the opening of the Woolwich murder trial at the Old Bailey central criminal court in London yesterday.

Lee Rigby, 25, was killed in a street close to the Woolwich military barracks in south London. The incident occurred within yards of a primary school, the jury was told.

Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, deny murdering the soldier.

Beginning the case at the Old Bailey, the prosecutor Richard Whittam QC told the jury the two men had committed a "cowardly and callous" attack on Rigby and had "mutilated his body with a meat cleaver and knives".

The attack happened just after 2pm on May 22. A Vauxhall Tigra was driven straight at the fusilier as he walked across Artillery Place. The car hit him at between 48km/h and 64km/h and crashed into a road sign.

Whittam said: "From eyewitness accounts it appears that Lee Rigby was rendered unconscious by that deliberate act. The car carried him from the road on to the pavement."

The jury were told by the prosecutor: "Both men got out. They were clearly acting together with a common purpose.

"The two men were armed with a meat cleaver and knives. They also had a firearm, a revolver, with them.

"They both attacked the motionless body of Lee Rigby."

Whittam continued: "He was repeatedly stabbed and it appears Michael Adebolajo made a serious and almost successful attempt to decapitate him with multiple blows to his neck made with the meat cleaver."

The jury also heard that Adebowale "was using the knife to stab and cut" at the body of the dying soldier.

The defendants are then accused of dragging the body into the middle of the road, because "they wanted the members of the public present to see the consequences of their barbarous acts", Whittam said.

Adebolajo and Adebowale are also charged with conspiring to murder and the attempted murder of police officers who arrived at the scene of the attack. Both defendants deny these charges.