Michael Adebolajo launches appeal against whole-life sentence for murder of Lee Rigby

Judge ruled at the time that Adebolajo's was a "rare case" which warranted a whole-life term

Michael Adebolajo, one of the men convicted of the brutal murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich last May, has launched an appeal against his whole-life sentence.

Adebolajo was sentenced at the Old Bailey in February alongside Michael Adebowale, who was jailed for life with a minimum term of 45 years.

The judge ruled at the time that Adebolajo's was a "rare case" which warranted a whole-life term.

The 29-year-old Muslim convert, together with Michael Adebowale, 22, butchered the 25-year-old father of one in broad daylight near Woolwich Barracks in south east London on May 22 last year.

They first drove a car into him before hacking the soldier to death with knives in a crime that shocked the nation.

The two men said they chose to attack Rigby after concluding he was a soldier partly because he was wearing a Help for Heroes hooded top.

Heartbroken relatives of Fusilier Rigby said "justice has been served" after Adebolajo was given the whole-life term, which condemns him to die behind bars.

When announcing the sentences, Mr Justice Sweeney told Adebolajo and Adebowale: "You each converted to Islam some years ago. Thereafter you were radicalised and each became an extremist, espousing a cause and views which, as has been said elsewhere, are a betrayal of Islam and of the peaceful Muslim communities who give so much to our country."

He went on: "You decided between you, and in order to advance your extremist cause, to murder a soldier in public in broad daylight and to do so in a way that would generate maximum media coverage, including getting yourselves killed by armed officers who would be bound to attend the scene in the aftermath of the murder - thereby expecting that you would become martyrs and each gain a place in paradise."

Explaining his decision to give Adebolajo a whole-life term, the judge said the 29-year-old, who has two children and four stepchildren, was the leader of the murderous plot and had "no real prospect of rehabilitation".

However, 22-year-old Adebowale's younger age, mental health problems and "lesser role" meant that he escaped spending the rest of his natural life behind bars.

Whole-life terms came under the spotlight recently when leading judges at the Court of Appeal ruled that murderers who commit the most "heinous" of crimes can be sent to prison for the rest of their lives.

A specially-constituted court declared that sentencing judges can continue to impose "whole-life" tariffs in such cases.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas said the court had 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.

Additional reporting by the Press Association.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor