Friday, November 29, 2013

Woolwich murder trial: Adebolajo and Adebowale in Court

The Old Bailey jury saw the weapons used to kill Lee Rigby at the hearing of the Woolwich murder trial. The prosecution, Richard Whittam QC said that one of the men accused of murdering the soldier, Michael Adebolajo, was captured on CCTV on 21 May, the day before the attack, visiting a branch of Argos in Lewisham, south London.

He drove there in a Vauxhall Tigra to run over the soldier in a suburban street.

The jury was shown pictures of receipts recovered by police from the car after the attack: a knife sharpener was bought for £9.99 from the Argos store and £44.98 was paid in cash for a set of five Taylors Eye Witness knives in a block.

Just after 8am on the day of the attack, Adebolajo was seen driving the car in the area around his home before filling up with petrol at a local shop. He told the assistant he did not have any money or identification and, according to Whittam, offered his phone as security. He told the shop assistant not to answer if it rang.

Adebolajo went home and returned. He paid for the petrol then headed towards the address of his co-accused, Michael Adebowale, at around 9.30am. The court heard that the two men were together for the rest of the morning before setting off for Woolwich.

The court was shown video footage and images of the pair driving around the area for at least an hour before the attack. Rigby was returning to his barracks in Woolwich after spending the morning at a recruitment fair at the Tower of London. The soldier's mother, Lyn Rigby, left the court in tears when jurors heard they were about to see her son's final moments.

Dressed in a blue Help for Heroes hooded top with a camouflage backpack slung over his shoulder, Rigby was shown passing a pub and council offices as he walked the short distance from Woolwich Arsenal Docklands Light Railway station. Instead of turning into his barracks, he crossed the road.

Without warning, the jury heard, Adebolajo drove the Tigra straight at Rigby. There were gasps as CCTV footage showed the car ploughing into Rigby from behind, lifting the 25-year-old onto the bonnet and windscreen before it crashed at up to 40mph. His unconscious body landed two feet in front of the car, the court heard.

"What unfolded after that was shocking to those who observed it," Whittam told jurors.

After a short delay Adebolajo and Adebowale got out of the car and set about an "horrific, frenzied attack," the jury was told.

"The driver was carrying a cleaver in his right 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 jaw line. He was using considerable force, bringing his hand into the air each time before he struck."

Bailey saw Adebolajo hack nine times into Rigby's neck, the jury heard. Another witness, Gary Perkins, saw Adebolajo "sawing at the neck of Lee Rigby with a machete" while Adebowale was "trying to cut bits of the body away". He said the attack was like "a butcher attacking a joint of meat".

Whittam told the jury that in police interviews Adebolajo said his name was Mjahid Abu Hamza and added: "Your people have gone to Afgahnistan and raped and killed our women. I am seeking retribution. I wouldn't stoop so low as to rape and kill women."

He is alleged to have said: "I thank the person who shot me because it is what Allah would have wanted," adding "I love Allah more than my children."

Adebolajo refused to sign the notes of this conversation, Whittam said, claiming his words had been taken out of context. The next day, 23 May, Adebolajo made more comments to police, the jury heard. He is alleged to have said: "My intention was never to harm civilians. There were women and children around. My intention was to hurt military only."

Referring to Rigby, the crown alleged Adebolajo said: "He was in his kit, in his uniform coming in and out of the barracks." 
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