Lee Rigby murder trial: Defendants will not face charge of conspiracy to murder

 

The two men in the dock over the killing of Lee Rigby will no longer face the additional charge of conspiracy to murder a police officer.

Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, still stand accused of running Fusilier Rigby down in a car and then murdering him with a meat cleaver and knives. They are also accused of attempted murder of a police officer. They both deny all the charges.

Fusilier Rigby was returning to his barracks in Woolwich, east London, on May 22 this year when he was attacked. He died from multiple cut and stab wounds. He was 25 years of age and had a two-year-old son.

Mr Justice Sweeney told the jury on Tuesday that nothing said by Adebolajo in his evidence amounts in law to a defence to the charge of murder.

He said: "I have ruled that nothing said by the first defendant and... his evidence - in short he was a soldier of Allah and was justified in doing what he did - amounts in law to a defence to this count."

He added: "Both defence counsel must and will respect that ruling in their speeches."

Fusilier Rigby's death sparked weeks of tension over its purported religious motive. Many organisations reported a spike in attacks on Muslims and mosques. In his closing speech, prosecutor Richard Whittam QC separates the case's details from any debate around religion.

He said: "Islam, one of the world's great religions, is not on trial."

Mr Whittam showed the jury once again images of bloodied knives, and also replayed the video clip in which Fusilier Rigby is seen being hit by a Vauxhall Tigra.

"What was the consequence of driving into Lee Rigby?" asked Mr Whittam. "The consequence was it broke his back."

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