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Lee Rigby murder trial: Witnesses describe attack on soldier in Woolwich
SHOCKED witnesses saw Drummer Lee Rigby hit by a car at "terrible speed" in Woolwich, flipped into the air and then attacked by "determined" knifemen, the Old Bailey heard today (December 2).
Michael Adebolajo, aged 28, of Oakwood Close, Hither Green, and Michael Adebowale, aged 22, of Thames Street, Greenwich, are charged with murdering the Fusilier as he walked back to Woolwich Barracks on May 22.
It is claimed they mowed him down with a car, then emerged armed with a meat cleaver, knives and a revolver, attacked the 25-year-old and dragged his body into the road.
Saraj Mier was smoking a cigar outside Queen Victoria supermarket when a purple Tigra drove into Artillery Place and veered across the road towards the soldier, who was crossing over.
He said in a statement the Tigra was being driven at "terrible speed", hitting Fusilier Rigby with "extreme force".
Two men then emerged from the car, he said, one with a machete and one with a knife in each hand.
He said: "I told them 'do not kill him'. They didn't listen to me."
Mr Mier asked them not to leave but said: "The black man in the passenger seat took out a gun and aimed it at me."
He added: "I can't think that a man can kill another man like this. I couldn't sleep for two nights."
Minicab driver Rob Powell told police the Tigra was driving very slowly, before gathering speed as it crossed the junction into Artillery Place.
He said Mr Rigby was "flipped into the air" by the impact, crumpling up and falling on the floor.
The driver emerged with a "chopper or axe", he said, and attacked the soldier's neck "like chopping a tree from left to right". The passenger attacked with a "thrusting" motion, he claimed.
And driver Amanda Bailey said in a statement how the victim's eyes "were still open but they looked frozen" after the impact.
She said of the man attacking his neck, alleged to be Adebolajo: "I was so shocked, all I could do was sit and stare at what was happening."
Ms Bailey went on: "He was determined. He wasn't going to stop. He didn't care. It was broad daylight and this man didn't care who was there and who wasn't there."
Spying a group of school children from nearby Mulgrave Primary School, she warned a teacher not to go down the road, the court heard.
Prosecutor Richard Whittam read a statement by eyewitness Cheralee Armstrong to the jury, in which she said that there was "pure evil" in one of the knifemen's eyes, and that she thought she would die.
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 went on: "I thought I was going to die. I could only think about my kids and James."
Ms Armstrong said that the pair threw Fusilier Rigby's body into the road "like it was a rubbish bag", and described one of the attackers looking "mad".
She said: "He looked mad, like he'd escaped from a mental hospital."
James Henegan who was driving his Citroen C3 with Ms Armstrong as passenger, wiped away tears as Adebolajo's barrister David Gottlieb asked him was he aware "there was nothing he could have done to change what happened".
"Yes," he said.
"My client is very anxious that you should know that," Mr Gottlieb added.
Dressed in a grey sweater, 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."
Jurors have also seen CCTV stills of Adebolajo buying a set of five knives and a knife sharpener from the Argos at Lewisham shopping centre the day before the attack.
Adebolajo has asked to be known as Mujaahid Abu Hamza in court, while Adebowale has asked to be called Ismail Ibn Abdullah.
They are also each accused of attempting to murder a police officer on the same day, and conspiracy to murder a police officer on or before that day.
They deny all charges but admit possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear or violence.
The trial continues.
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