A Muslim convert held a British soldier by the hair and tried to hack off his head ‘like a butcher attacking a joint of meat’ after knocking him down with a car at 40mph, the Old Bailey heard today.
Drummer Lee Rigby was ‘mutilated, almost decapitated and murdered’ by Michael Adebowale, 22, and Michael Adebolajo, 28, who ambushed him outside military barracks in Woolwich, South East London, the jury was told.
The father-of-one, 25, almost had his head sliced off when his ‘motionless’ body was attacked in a ‘cowardly and callous’ execution, the prosecution has said.
The family, fiancée and estranged wife of Lee Rigby were at the Old Bailey, but left the courtroom in tears when the jury was shown CCTV of the moment he was knocked down, dragged into the road and hacked to death
Opening the case against them today, a jury was told the men committed a ‘heinous’ act.
Richard Whittam QC said Drummer Rigby was hit by their car at up to 40mph as he crossed the road, leaving him helpless on the ground, before his alleged killers dragged him into the road.
‘The two men were armed with a meat cleaver and knives. They also had a firearm, a revolver, with them,’ Mr Whittam said.
‘The driver (Adebolajo) was carrying a cleaver in his 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 jawline with considerable force.
‘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.’
Amanda Bailey saw the events from inside her Peugeot 206, the jury heard.
She saw the Tigra strike Fusilier Rigby and carry him until the car crashed into a road sign.
‘The young man flew off the bonnet and landed about two feet in front of the car,’ Mr Whittam said.
‘She (Bailey) saw that his eyes were open but they looked frozen.’
Shopkeeper Ibrahim Elidemir and Saraj Miah, who described the car hitting Lee Rigby at a ‘terrible speed’, the court heard.
Mr Miah told the two men ‘Don’t kill him’ but the passenger took out a gun and aimed it at him.
Greenwich Borough Council electrician Thomas Seymour, saw a man attack the neck of Fusilier Rigby.
Mr Whittam told the jury: ‘Mr Seymour ‘instantly believed that he was trying to cut the victim’s head off’.’
Another witness, Gary Perkins, described the defendant’s actions as being ‘like a butcher attacking a joint of meat’.
Mr Whittam added: ‘They wanted the members of the public present to see the consequences of what can only be described their barbarous acts.
‘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 and then they murdered him and mutilated his body with that meat cleaver and knives.’