Muslim fanatics are jailed over Rigby murder

A 2007 wedding picture of Lee Rigby and Rebecca Metcalfe in Southowram, Halifax. Picture: Ross Parry AgencyA 2007 wedding picture of Lee Rigby and Rebecca Metcalfe in Southowram, Halifax. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
A 2007 wedding picture of Lee Rigby and Rebecca Metcalfe in Southowram, Halifax. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
The family of murdered soldier Lee Rigby said they were “satisfied that justice has been served” after a judge sentenced one of the Muslim fanatics who killed him to die behind bars and jailed the other for at least 45 years.

They said that Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale had received the “right prison terms”.

The pair were sentenced at the Old Bailey by Mr Justice Sweeney, who had waited for a key appeal court ruling on whole life terms before deciding the men’s fate.

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Adebolajo, 29, was given a whole life term while Adebowale, 22, was jailed for life with a minimum of 45 years.

In a statement read by family liaison officer Detective Inspector Pete Sparks, the soldier’s family said: “We would like to thank the judge and the courts for handing down what we believe to be the right prison terms.

“We would also like to thank everyone who has supported us in the last nine months.

“It has brought us a lot of comfort and we feel satisfied that justice has been served for Lee. We now ask to continue to grieve in private.”

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The British-born extremists mowed Fusilier Rigby down in a car before hacking him to death in the street in front of horrified onlookers near Woolwich Barracks in south east London in May last year.

They both claimed that they were “soldiers of Allah” and were motivated by the plight of 
Muslims abroad to carry out the killing, and have shown no remorse.

Mr Justice Sweeney said the pair’s behaviour was “sickening and pitiless”, and that Adebolajo had no hope of rehabilitation.

“Your sickening and pitiless conduct was in stark contrast to the compassion and bravery shown by the various women at the scene who tended to Lee Rigby’s body and challenged what you had done and said.”

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He said that the murder also betrayed “the peaceful Muslim communities who give so much to our country”, and that the men had carried out the killing to show “your extremist views, 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 were bound to arrive at the scene”.

Describing how the pair mowed the 25-year-old down at 30-40mph, he said: “He had done absolutely nothing to deserve what you went on to do to him.”

Mr Justice Sweeney added: “It is no exaggeration to say that what the two of you did resulted in a bloodbath.”

Adebolajo tried to behead the soldier while Adebowale stabbed him in the chest.

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“You both gloried in what you had done,” the judge told the court, and said it had a “severe and lasting impact” on his loved ones.

After sentencing, Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, who heads Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command, said: “Today’s sentence reflects the true horror of their actions in taking this young man’s life in such a barbaric way.

“Our thoughts remain with Lee’s loved ones, who have shown dignity and strength throughout the judicial process.”

Sue Hemming, head of special crime and counter terrorism at the Crown Prosecution Service, acknowledged that the soldier’s family had found the whole court process distressing.

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She said: “Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale revelled in one of the most appalling terrorist murders I have seen whilst head of counter terrorism at the CPS.

“Not only was the attack brutal and calculated, it was also designed to advance extremist views.

“As a solider, Fusilier Lee Rigby was targeted in a clear act of revenge, deliberately carried out in full view of members of the public for maximum impact.

“I know the court process has been particularly distressing for Lee Rigby’s family. I hope they can take some small comfort from the sentences imposed today and can begin to move on.”