‘I tried to behead soldier humanely’ - accused

CCTV footage of Adebolajo, left, with a bloody cleaver, and Adebowale. Picture: AP
CCTV footage of Adebolajo, left, with a bloody cleaver, and Adebowale. Picture: AP
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THE alleged murderers of Lee Rigby lay in wait for a serviceman to kill “humanely” and chose the fusilier just because he was “the soldier that was spotted first”, a jury has heard.

Michael Adebolajo, 28, told detectives that he and his accomplice Michael Adebowale, 22, decided that a soldier “was the most fair target” as they had joined the army understanding that their life would be at risk, the Old Bailey was told.

The men are accused of mowing Fusilier Rigby down in a car before hacking him to death with a meat cleaver and knives near Woolwich Barracks in south-east London on 22 May.

During a police interview from 1 June played to the court, Adebolajo, with a copy of the Koran in front of him, said he had “set out determined that this way we will obey the command of Allah”.

Referring to Adebowale as Ismail, he told detectives that the alleged murder was not “a personal vendetta”.

He said: “I have never met the family of Lee Rigby. Quite possibly I may have walked past one of them in the street. I do not hate them, nor does my brother Ismail, he does not. This is not a personal vendetta.”

Describing the day of the killing, he said: “We decided to wait in the vicinity of the barracks in Woolwich. By the command of Allah, we waited to find a soldier because between us we decided that the soldier is the most fair target because he joins the army with kind of an understanding that your life is at risk.”

He added: “It just so happened that he was the soldier that was spotted first.”

Adebolajo said it was “almost as if Allah had chosen” Lee Rigby, and that he had tried to cut his jugular because that was the most humane way of killing.

“When I thought about obeying Allah in the past I thought maybe it is possible to kill a man by driving into him,” Adebolajo said. “When he crossed the road in front of me so casually it was almost as if I was not in control of myself. I accelerated, I hit him and I think I also crashed into a signpost.”

He said: “We did not wish to give him much pain … I could see he was still alive.

“We exited the vehicle and I am not sure how I struck the first blow. The most humane way to kill any creature is to cut the jugular. This is what I believe, this is how we kill our animals in Islam.

“He may be my enemy but he is a man, so I struck at the neck and attempted to remove his head.”

Adebolajo also asked if it would be possible to speak to Fusilier Rigby’s family.

Adebolajo and Adebowale are both accused of murdering the soldier, attempting to murder a police officer and conspiracy to murder a police officer. They deny all the charges.

The prosecution laid out a series of agreed facts, including how Adebolajo handed a note to police, saying it was the first document he had made “since killing a man and being shot by police” and that it would make the officer to whom he gave it famous.

Jurors were told that extremist material belonging to Adebolajo was found at his father’s house. One book included a chapter entitled: “The virtues of killing a non-believer for the sake of Allah.”

The trial was adjourned until Monday.