Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Lee Rigby murder: Soldier's widow speaks out as Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale wait to hear jail terms

Widow of Fusilier Rigby tells court their child will grow up to see 'images of dad no son should have to endure'
  • @adamwithnall

The wife of the murdered soldier Lee Rigby has said their child will grow up to see "images of his dad that no son should have to endure", as a judge at the Old Bailey prepared to sentence his killers today.

Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, ran the young soldier down in a car before hacking him to death on a street near Woolwich barracks in May.

Today the court heard about the impact of the attack to the family of Fusilier Rigby, 25, and a statement from the soldier's stepfather described the shock of seeing footage of the brutal attack on TV.

Prosecutor Richard Whittam QC read out excerpts of the statement from Fusilier Rigby's widow, Rebecca, who told the court: "I know my son will grow up and see images of his dad that no son should have to endure.

Ms Rigby said that she had accepted her husband would be at risk serving in Afghanistan, but not in Britain, where he was based when he died.

"We both talked about the dangers of Afghanistan and braced ourselves for it," she said. "You do not expect to see this on the streets of the UK."

The court also heard from David Gottlieb, representing Adebolajo, who warned that a whole-life term was "likely to create a martyr". He said he was not someone who is "incapable of change", adding: "He should not in these circumstances be deprived of any hope of release."

Seeking leniency from the presiding judge, Adebowale's lawyer said his acts "were as a result of a psychiatric condition". He said that, while it was a "joint enterprise", the younger man played a lesser role in the offence.

WARNING: graphic footage


Mr Justice Sweeney had delayed today's sentencing hearing until after a key appeal court decision earlier this month, which found that whole-life terms can legally be used by UK judges.

During their Old Bailey trial last year, 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-Qa'ida.

He claimed that they were "soldiers of Allah" and had carried out the killing in front of horrified onlookers on 22 May as revenge for abuse of Muslims abroad.

They chose Fusilier Rigby, 25, as their victim because he was wearing a Help for Heroes hooded top that day, and they assumed he was a soldier.

After the pair were convicted at the Old Bailey in December, Adebolajo kissed his Koran and raised it into the air as he and his accomplice were led down to the cells.

Fusilier Rigby's family, who were praised for their dignity throughout the trial, welcomed the killers' convictions.

His mother Lyn said: "We are satisfied that justice has been served, but unfortunately no amount of justice will ever bring Lee back."