Lee Rigby murder trial: Killer 'had look of pure evil as he hacked body'

Tearful witness tells trial how he shouted at attackers to stop, before being threatened with gun

The two killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby appeared intent on removing his organs during a frenzied knife attack before tossing his remains into the road like rubbish, witnesses told the Old Bailey.

The men – one said to have had a “blank expression of pure evil” and the other who “looked like he had escaped from a mental hospital” – ignored the shouts of drivers who stopped a few feet away as the pair hacked at the soldier’s body, the court heard.

Pausing only to allow the other man to strike home his blows, one of the killers tried to cut off the soldier’s head while the second man plunged two knives into his body, according to witnesses. One said he believed the attack must have been gang or drug-related because of the ferocity of the daytime stabbings on a busy street.

Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, are accused of mowing down Fusilier Rigby in their car as he walked to his barracks in Woolwich, south-east London, on 22 May before stabbing him with knives and a meat cleaver. The court has heard that Mr Adebolajo told medics that he carried out the attack for God, and passed a note railing against British military involvement in Muslim countries to a woman at the scene.

An emotional witness who stopped just feet away from the attack was told he could have done nothing to have prevented the killing. James Henegan had shouted at the two men to halt the attack and called the police, but was forced to drive off when one of the killers pulled out a gun and threatened both him and his passenger, the court heard.

As Mr Henegan wiped away tears as he recounted what he had seen, the barrister for Mr Adebolajo asked Mr Henegan if he realised “there was nothing he could have done to change what happened”. “My client is very anxious that you should know that,” David Gottlieb said.

The first witnesses on the scene of the attack recounted their disbelief after coming across what many initially thought was a road accident.

Amanda Bailey said she thought one of the attackers was pulling a mobile phone from a jacket to call the emergency services, but then pulled out a blade instead. “I couldn’t believe what was happening,” she said in a statement. “He wouldn’t stop. He didn’t care who was there. The whole incident took about two minutes, but I can’t be sure. It felt like a lifetime.”

Lee Rigby appeared unconscious throughout the attack, the court heard. “He did not make a sound, he did not beg for mercy, he did not scream,” said Gill Hucks, who stopped to try to help the injured man.

In a statement read to the court, Cheralee Armstrong, a passenger in Mr Henegan’s car, said she saw two men over the body of Fusilier Rigby. She saw a “rocking movement of these two men’s bodies. I thought they were resuscitating him following a car crash,” the jury was told.

She said she then saw one man “ramming two knives into the man with so much force. It was like they were mutilating the person’s body...  like they were trying to remove his organs from his torso.” Ms Armstrong shouted at the man to stop. “His expression was blank, pure evil, and his eyes were bulging,” she said.

One of the men walked back to the crashed car and plucked a gun from a crumpled plastic bag. He pointed it at her without saying a word until she and Mr Henegan got back into their car and drove off.

Adebolajo buying a knife set the day before the attack Adebolajo buying a knife set the day before the attack
Another witness, electrician Thomas Seymour, said he saw Mr Rigby lying on the pavement and mistakenly thought he was black because of the amount of blood covering him. He said that the two men moved away after the first round of attacks, before one man nudged the other and they ran back to the body and attacked it again.

“I believed he was trying to cut the victim’s head off by the way he was attacking him,” he said. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

After Fusilier Rigby’s body was thrown into the road, witnesses said that one of the “hyped up” killers began “prancing” about, playing to the cameras to justify what he had done.

Earlier in the day, the jury was shown images of Adebolajo on 21 May purchasing a set of knives and a sharpener at the Lewisham branch of Argos. They were also shown CCTV stills of the car being driven by Adebolajo at different locations in Lewisham, Greenwich and Woolwich.

The dead man’s widow Rebecca left court in tears during the second day of graphic evidence about the killing. The two defendants deny murder, attempting to murder a police officer and conspiracy to murder a police officer. The case continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
Danielle George is both science professor and presenter
people
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015