Woolwich murder: Killers of British soldier Lee Rigby handed lengthy prison terms

Michael Adebolajo, 29, who received the whole-life term, and Michael Adebowale, 22, was jailed for 45 years.


Afp February 26, 2014
A police officer stands next to floral tributes, flags and balloons left for British soldier Lee Rigby, near the scene where he was killed in Woolwich, southeast London May 28, 2013. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

LONDON: A man convicted of hacking British soldier Lee Rigby to death on a London street were ordered Wednesday to spend the rest of his life behind bars, while his accomplice was jailed for a minimum of 45 years.

Michael Adebolajo, 29, who received the whole-life term, and Michael Adebowale, 22, were dragged from the dock at the Old Bailey court in London after they started screaming at the judge during the sentencing.


Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, were found guilty in December of ploughing into Rigby with a car before attacking him with knives in broad daylight outside his barracks in May last year. They were sentenced to life and to 45 years in prison respectively.

The sentencing had been delayed because the judge wanted clarification on a European ruling that made it uncertain whether whole-life jail terms could still be imposed.

England's Court of Appeal upheld the right to impose the punishment on February 18.

Judge Nigel Sweeney is set to pass sentence at London's Old Bailey at around 1400 GMT.

Adebolajo and Adebowale said they had attacked the off-duty 25-year-old fusilier to avenge deaths at the hands of British troops in war zones.

Adebolajo tried to behead Rigby with a meat cleaver in front of horrified passers-by.

The pair were shot and wounded by armed police at the murder scene in Woolwich, southeast London, after Adebolajo charged at them waving the cleaver, while Adebowale raised a rusty, unloaded gun.

A jury found them guilty within hours on December 19 and Sweeney said he was considering whole-life terms.

But the European Court of Human Rights last year condemned whole-life terms as a violation of prisoners' rights, causing the Court of Appeal to launch a review.

The Rigby murder stunned Britain and sparked a rise in community tensions, with several mosques attacked by arsonists. British Muslim leaders deplored the killing.

The brutal daylight attack also raised questions for British intelligence agencies as Adebolajo was known to the security services, having been arrested in Kenya in 2010 and deported.

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