The Islamist killers of Drummer Lee Rigby erupted into violence in an Old Bailey courtroom as they were sentenced for murder. Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, had to be manhandled out of court by security guards after being told by Mr Justice Sweeney that their crime was a “betrayal of Islam”. Michael Adebowale stood up and shouted: “I swear by Allah that America and Britain will never have any safety. Allah Akbar.” His co-defendant, Michael Adebolajo, also stood up and began shouting before dock officers grabbed both killers and wrestled them to the floor. Relatives of Drummer Rigby, sitting just feet away, stood up and cowered away from the violence.Relatives of murdered fusilier Lee Rigby, (L-R) his stepfather Ian Rigby, his mother Lyn Rigby, his sisters Sara McClure and Chelsea Rigby, arrive at the Old Bailey to attend the sentencing of Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale
Adebolajo was manhandled down the stairs in the historic Court No 2 but, in scenes lasting several minutes, his co-defendant was held to the floor and cuffed before being carried downstairs head first. Drummer Rigby’s widow Rebecca was left sobbing uncontrollably at the scenes.
Mr Justice Sweeney resumed his sentencing to give Adebolajo a whole life tariff, meaning he will die in jail. Adebowale was given life with a minimum term of 45 years. The pair had reacted to the judge’s comments that as they became extremists they ‘espoused’ views that “are a betrayal of Islam.” Adebowale called out “that’s a lie” and “it’s not a betrayal of Islam” as the judge told them they had been radicalised. He was heard to shout: “You [Britain] and America will never be safe.”
The killers struck the 25-year-old soldier with a car, knocking him unconscious, near his barracks in Woolwich, south-east London, in May last year before hacking him to death and dumping his body in the road. A bystander recorded Adebolajo making sickening boasts immediately after Drummer Rigby had been attacked and virtually decapitated. Footage captured Adebolajo, a married father of six, saying into a camera: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”As he continued to sentence the pair in their absence, Mr Justice Sweeney said: “You have both been convicted of the barbaric murder of Lee Rigby,” and said he was sure it was a murder with a “terrorist connection.” He added: “You each converted to Islam some years ago, thereafter you were radicalised.” He said the pair both converted to extremists and decided to “murder a soldier in public daylight” to advance their extremist cause. He described the scene of the murder as a “bloodbath” and said they “butchered” Lee Rigby, describing Adebolajo’s political statements, filmed on a mobile phone as “sickening.” Mr Justice Sweeney said the murder of Fusilier Rigby was a “betrayal of Islam.” He said the pair had not shown any regret for the killing and in the case of Adebolajo there was no mitigation. He added: “I’m sure this was a murder done for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or racial cause.
The murderers had been surrounded by nine dock officers during the two-hour hearing. Mr Justice Sweeney had warned both men they needed to remain quiet while they were sentenced and later apologised to those in court “that you all had to witness what happened in the dock”. Adebolajo, who wanted to be called by the name Mujaahid Abu Hamza, was dressed in a black Islamic robe and refused to stand up in court. Lawyers for Adebowale, who was dressed in a black skull-cap and black hooded top, referred to him by the name Ishmael Abdullah. Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting, said they should both receive “whole life” tariffs – meaning they will never be eligible for release – because of the severity of their crime and its political motivation. David Gottlieb, for Adebolajo, had argued that a whole life tariff would not be appropriate for his client.
“The first defendant (Adebolajo) is not so depraved and wicked that he is incapable of redemption in the future,” he told the court. He added that Adebolajo was a “sincere but misguided person who has committed a wicked act”. After the sentencing Lee Rigby’s family said Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale had received the “right prison terms” adding: “We feel satisfied that justice has been served for Lee.” Both killers were born into Christian families and converted to Islam.
They were convicted of murder last December but their sentencing was put on hold while the Court of Appeal decided whether judges were free to impose whole life tariffs following a controversial ruling by European judges. Last week appeal judges backed existing British laws which say that in “exceptional” cases the most heinous criminals can be sent to jail for the rest of their lives. It was the first terrorist-related murder on British soil since the July 7 bombings in 2005. Adebolajo became interested in Islam in his teens and eventually became involved in Islamist extremism. His activities escalated in 2010 when he was detained in Kenya attempting to cross the border into Somalia. It is believed he intended to join al-Shabaab, the Somali terrorist group. Adebowale and Adebolajo, who both grew up in east London, claimed they were “soldiers of Allah” and that the killing was a legitimate act because Britain was at war with Muslim people.
The judge said the pair’s behaviour was “sickening”, and that Adebolajo had no hope of rehabilitation. He said: “Your sickening and pitiless conduct was in stark contrast to the compassion and bravery shown by the various women at the scene who tended to Lee Rigby’s body and challenged what you had done and said.”During their trial at the Old Bailey, Adebowale, from Greenwich, south-east London, offered no evidence in his defence, but Adebolajo, from Romford, Essex, gave a rambling testimony during which he told the jury he loved al Qaida. He claimed that they were “soldiers of Allah” and had carried out the killing as revenge for abuse of Muslims abroad. At the Old Bailey a statement from Drummer Rigby’s widow and mother of his son, Rebecca Rigby, was read out to the court where she described her fears for the future when their child would learn and see images of how his father died. The statement said: “Of all the feelings I have, the one thing that overrides everything is that I know my son will grow up and see images of his dad that no son should ever have to endure, and there is nothing I can do to change this.”
The only son of Lee Rigby, Jack, holds the hands of the loved-ones as he attended his father’s funeral in July. His mother Rebecca told the judge today that he will grow up to see images of his father’ horrific murder
The soldier’s step father also explained the impact of his murder on the family. He said: ” After all he had been through in Afghanistan all Lee was doing was just walking through London. Just seeing on the television and seeing the violence of it you just can’t comprehend. You take it all in and it doesn’t click in your head, it is like being somewhere else.” Before the sentence Adebolajo’s defending barrister David Gottlieb argued against his client being handed a whole-life order, with no hope of parole saying he did not intend to injure anyone other than the victim. He added: “There’s no evidence that the defendants were part of a wider network or cell or support group.”
The guidance about whole-life tariffs follows a decision by the European Court of Human Rights last year in an appeal by three murderers. Lord Thomas said the court held that the statutory scheme enacted by Parliament which enabled judges to pass whole-life orders was “entirely compatible” with the European Convention on Human Rights.A large group of protesters gathered outside the court as police tried to hold them back on Tuesday afternoon. Three people were arrested outside the Old Bailey as demonstrators gathered outside the court building, waving Union flags and chanting. A City of London Police spokesman said two men were arrested, one on suspicion of actual bodily harm and one for affray. A woman was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly. Supporters of the British National Party and the English Defence League gathered around gallows which had been constructed in the street and many held placards which read: “Restore capital punishment”.
The crowd cheered when the sentences was announced. Reporting for the TELEGRAPH, by By David Barrett, and Claire Carter
The sentence is far too lenient in my eye. They should have been taken by boat down the River Thames, and placed through the Tower of London’s traitors gate, to be allowed the privilege (denied to Lee Rigby) of saying say goodbye to their families for the last time.
Then they should have been taken to the scaffolding and hung from the neck until pronounced dead. Yours Aye.