Jury to decide if ‘soldiers of Allah’ murdered Rigby

Fusilier Lee Rigby, who died in a London street in May. Picture: AP
Fusilier Lee Rigby, who died in a London street in May. Picture: AP
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ONE of soldier Lee Rigby’s alleged murderers, who chose not to offer evidence, shares his co-defendant’s belief that he is a soldier of Allah, a jury has been told.

Michael Adebowale, 22, agrees with his co-defendant’s reasons for killing Fusilier Rigby, his defending counsel, Abbas Lakha QC, told the Old Bailey.

Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo, 29, are accused of running the soldier down with a car and then hacking him to death with a meat cleaver and knives near Woolwich Barracks in south-east London on 22 May.

Both men are also accused of attempting to murder a police officer in the aftermath of the alleged killing of Fusilier Rigby.

Mr Justice Sweeney told the jurors he expects them to retire to consider their verdicts this morning.

In his closing speech, Mr Lakha said his client did not plan to kill a police officer but wanted to achieve “martyrdom”.

Mr Lakha said both men killed the soldier “as soldiers of Islam – this was a military operation they planned together and their target in that operation was a British soldier, and only a British soldier, no-one else”.

Referring to both men with their adopted Islamic names, Adebolajo as Mujahid Abu Hamza and Adebowale as Ismail Ibn Abdullah, Mr Lakha went on: “On behalf of the second defendant [Adebowale], I did not challenge Mr Abu Hamza’s evidence.

“What that means is Ismail agrees with what Mr Abu Hamza said about the reasons for the killing of Lee Rigby and they were acting together in that way and for those reasons. That is his case.”

Both men deny charges of murder and attempted murder of a police officer.

Later, Mr Justice Sweeney began summing up, telling the jury to use “your joint experience of life and your common sense” in coming to a verdict.

He said: “You apply the law as I direct you, it is to the facts as you find them to be, and by that we will between us ensure that you return true verdicts according to the evidence in this case.”

The judge warned the panel of eight women and four men not to let emotion sway their decision.

The court heard that any suggestion that Adebolajo had been engaged in a war of rebellion against the state is not a defence in law.

Addressing the question of intent, Mr Justice Sweeney said that there was no psychiatric evidence that either defendant was incapable of forming an intent.

He went on: “Just like a drunken intent, an intent driven by religious belief is still an intent.”

He said that in relation to the murder count, the jury must consider three key factors.

The first is whether Lee Rigby was under the Queen’s peace at the time of the alleged murder – effectively whether or not he was killed in the course of war.

The second is whether he was unlawfully killed, and the third is whether the defendants were involved in a joint enterprise to kill him or cause him really serious harm.