Lee Rigby murder trial: Michael Adebowale offers no evidence in his defence

22-year-old is one of two men accused of running the soldier down in a car and then hacking him to death with a meat cleaver and knives

Crime Correspondent

One
of the two men accused of murdering Fusilier Lee Rigby will not go into the
witness box to give evidence in his own defence, his legal team told the Old
Bailey on Friday.

Michael Adebowale, 22, was the front seat passenger in a Vauxhall Tigra that rammed the unsuspecting soldier before he got out of the damaged car and attacked the prone man’s body with kitchen knives, witnesses have told the court.

His co-defendant, Michael Adebolajo, 29, claimed earlier this week that he was a soldier of Allah fighting a war because British troops were in Muslim countries.

He accepts that he attacked Fusilier Rigby, 25, near Woolwich barracks, southeast London, and tried to cut off his head with a cleaver. But he claimed that he pulled Mr Adebowale away from the body when the younger man started attacking him because the soldier was already dead.

Both Mr Adebolajo and Mr Adebowale, who converted to Islam at the age of 17 and wishes to be known as Ismail Ibn Abdullah, deny murder and the attempted murder of the first police officers on the scene of the killing on May 22.

Mr Adebowale’s legal team said yesterday that it would not be calling any other witnesses for his defence. “The evidence is now over. It means that the second defendant has chosen neither to give nor to call any evidence,” the trial judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, told the jury of eight women and four men. “You are not to draw any inference adverse to him from the fact that he has chosen not to give evidence.”

The jury had earlier watched dramatic CCTV footage that showed Mr Adebowale point a gun at the team of armed officers after a cleaver-wielding Mr Adebolajo was shot within a few feet of their car that arrived on the scene some 13 minutes after the killing.

Mr Adebowale was himself then shot and injured by the police marksman but still managed to swing his gun up towards one of the officers, she said in a statement. The officer, who was not named, said she feared for her own life before the fallen suspect was shot again by her colleagues, the court heard.

Mr Adebowale was later taken by air ambulance to hospital with gunshot wounds. His own 90-year-old gun was later found not to be loaded and Mr Adebolajo had claimed that the two men argued over who would have it. Mr Adebolajo told the court that they believed that the person who had the gun was more likely to be killed by police and achieve their goal of martyrdom.

“To be killed on the battlefield is not something we shy away from and in fact this is something that Allah loves,” he told police during interviews played to the court last week. He said that he had “obeyed the command of Allah” to kill a serviceman.

“I’m a soldier and this is war,” said Mr Adebolajo in evidence to the court on Monday. “Basically it is a war between Islam and those militaries that invade Muslim lands. One of them just happens to be the British military and therefore the war continues even to this day.”

The trial was adjourned and the jury could retire to consider its verdicts later next week.

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