Lee Rigby murder trial hears eyewitness accounts

The court was shown CCTV of Michael Adebolajo entering Argos in Lewisham to buy knives. Picture: PA
The court was shown CCTV of Michael Adebolajo entering Argos in Lewisham to buy knives. Picture: PA
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One of Lee Rigby’s alleged killers had a look of “pure evil” after he and another man hacked at the soldier’s body in a “frenzied” attack, a court has heard.

Jurors at the Old Bailey yesterday heard a series of graphic eyewitness accounts, including from James Henegan and Cheralee Armstrong who feared they would be shot when one of the men pointed a gun at them.

Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, are accused of running the soldier over and hacking him to death with a meat cleaver and knives as he walked back to Woolwich Barracks in south-east London on 22 May.

They deny a charge of murder, as well as attempting to murder a police officer and conspiracy to murder a police officer.

Prosecutor Richard Whittam, QC, read a statement by Ms Armstrong to the jury, in which she said there was “pure evil” in one of the knifemen’s eyes, and she thought she was going to be killed.

She said: “It was like they were mutilating the person’s body. It seemed like they were trying to remove his organs from his torso.”

When she shouted at the attackers to stop, she described one of them looking at her. She went on: “The man in the hat stared at me, his expression was blank, pure evil, and his eyes were bulging.”

He then pointed a gun at her. She said: “I thought I was going to die. I could only think about my kids and James [Henegan].”

Ms Armstrong said the pair threw Fusilier Rigby’s body into the road “like it was a rubbish bag”, and described one of the attackers looking “mad”.

Mr Henegan, who was driving his Citroen C3 with Ms Armstrong as his passenger, wiped away tears as Adebolajo’s barrister, David Gottlieb, asked him if was he aware “there was nothing he could have done to change what happened”. “Yes,” he replied.

“My client is very anxious that you should know that,” Mr Gottlieb said.

Mr Henegan wept as he described the moment he left his car and saw one of the men withdraw a gun from what looked like a carrier bag. “He pulled a gun from the bag and pointed it at us,” he said. “I thought he was going to shoot … fire a gun at us.”

Gill Hucks, who had been driving through the area in her red Kia with colleague Gary Perkins, described her shock at the attack.

“What I saw then I can only describe as a horrific, frenzied attack on the man on the floor by two knife-wielding crazy men,” she said. “I had almost totally lost control and was screaming.”

She said she saw one of the men “playing to the cameras” as people filmed the aftermath of the attack on their mobile phones.

Another witness, Amanda Bailey, whose statement was also read by Mr Whittam, said she thought Fusilier Rigby was dead after he was run over.

“I thought that he was dead or in shock. I couldn’t see any visible injuries on him,” she said.

She described one of the men trying to decapitate Fusilier Rigby. “He was using a lot of force to hack at the young man’s neck. The motion of his arm was that he was raising it up and bringing it down”, she said.

“I was so shocked all I could do was sit there and stare … I couldn’t believe what was going on. He was determined and he wasn’t going to stop. He didn’t care. It was broad daylight and this man didn’t care.”

Saraj Miah, who was seen in a CCTV clip talking with a shopkeeper near the scene, pleaded with the attackers not to kill the soldier, the court heard. He said: “I thought that the two black men with knives were going to kill him. I told them not to kill him. They did not listen to me.”

Thomas Seymour, an electrician with Greenwich Borough Council, was driving his van back to his depot when he witnessed the attack. He said he saw one of the men stab the soldier between the chest and belly button “ten or 20 times”.

Earlier, the jury saw images of Adebolajo buying a five-piece set of knives and a knife sharpener from a branch of Argos on 21 May. They were also shown CCTV stills of the car being driven by Adebolajo at different locations.

The case continues.