Murdered In Broad Daylight: The Lee Rigby Story

(Lee with his son Jack. Picture credit: The Sun)

Every time I see a picture of Lee Rigby it breaks my heart for so many reasons, not only for what happened to this lovely young man but also because he is the double of my brother, which I know is a strange thing to say. I think that's how a lot of people in the UK see Lee, as a brother or someone who they could have had a coffee and a chat with going by the stories and descriptions of him from those who knew him best. He was just 25 years old when he was murdered on the street in London back in 2013 and it's so very raw to this day, like it just happened yesterday.

I have been putting off writing about this case but after a number of requests I thought I would just go ahead and tell Lee's story briefly for those who may not know what happened on that horrible afternoon of the 22nd of May 2013. I know how heartbreaking this is and I will be as sensitive as I can be in this post. I will not be posting any photographs of Lee's body out of respect and I will try to be as sensitive with the details as I can be. Please keep in mind before reading this post that the details will be upsetting so I understand if you don't feel that you can continue reading.

They say a picture says a thousand words and I'm sure you will agree with me that the picture of Lee Rigby and his son Jack (posted above) is a truly beautiful image, you can see a lot of love and warmth there. Lee may have only been 25 years old but he accomplished so much in his life, he served his county and brought a lovely little boy into the world amongst many things. 

Lee James Rigby was a soldier in the British Army (a Fusilier in The Royal Regiment Of Fusiliers) and was born in 1987 to parents Lyn and Phil in Crumpsall in England. He had three sisters, Sarah, Chelsea and Megan. He was from a loving family and was a very popular and liked young man who was very talented. Later on when he joined the British Army he had spent some time in Afghanistan, Cyprus and Germany. He was previously married from 2007 to 2013 but that marriage had ended and he was in another relationship at the time of his death. His beautiful son Jack was only two years old when he lost his father.

Lee had been carrying out his usual duties at the Tower of London on the 22nd of May 2013 and was on his way back to the barracks in Woolwich in London when two men who had been driving around in a car, looking for a soldier to kill, targeted him from behind and ran him over in the car as he crossed the street. 

The two men, Michael Adebolajo (29) and Michael Adebowale (22) then jumped out of the car as Lee lay helpless on the ground and proceeded to try and decapitate him in the middle of the street as members of the public were nearby. It was like the most horrific scene in a horror movie but it was reality. The monsters used meat cleavers and knives that they had bought from a shop the day before to hack at Lee. It was horrendous and barbaric. 

(Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale. Picture credit: Telegraph)

As members of the public began to walk by and public transport was passing, people looking at the horrific scene assumed that there must have been some sort of terrible car accident as at one point, the attackers stopped what they were doing and were seen walking about around Lee's body, shouting for people to record the scene with their phones and call the police. 

Michael Adebolajo was the more vocal of the pair and stood on the pavement, still holding weapons with his hands covered in blood. 

Some brave female members of the public rushed over to see if Lee was ok, they even tried to calm the attackers and did their best to keep them away from Lee. 

Quite a few members of the public walked past these two men totally oblivious to what was going on but it all soon became clear when Michael Adebolajo stood in front of the mobile phones that were recording him and said: 

''The only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers and this British soldier is Allah, we swear by the almighty Allah, we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. So what if we want to live by the Sharia in Muslim lands? Why does that mean you must follow us and chase us and call us extremists and kill us?... When you drop a bomb you think it hits one person? or rather your bomb wipes out a whole family? Through many passages in the Koran, we must fight them as they fight us...I apologise that women had to witness this today but in our lands, women have to see the same. You people will never be safe, remove your governments. They don't care about you. You think David Cameron is gonna get caught in the street when we start bursting our guns. Do you think it's politicians who are going to die? no it's the average guy like you and your children. So get rid of them, tell them to bring our troops back so you will all live in peace, that's all I have to say.'' - Michael Adebolajo.

(Michael Adebolajo. Picture credit: ITV News)

Whilst this was all going on, both of the men were calm and had not been on any substances or alcohol. 

Both of the men were born in the UK and were of Nigerian descent. Both of them were university educated and from respectable families. Michael Adebolajo was brought up in a Christian household but converted to Islam at the age of 18. Adebolajo was involved in various radical Islamic activities and had later said that one of the reasons for him converting was because of what he had seen on the TV about what was happening in Iraq. Adebowale also converted to Islam and had been in trouble with drugs in the past and had even done a spell in prison. Both men were known to British Security Services. 

At the time of Lee's murder, Adebowale was going off the rails and some believe he had post traumatic stress disorder from an incident he had witnessed years before when he had saw someone being murdered. Adebolajo was a father of six children and his youngest child was just four days old at the time of the attack. 

Eventually the police arrived and the pair were brandishing an old faulty gun which they were hoping would encourage the police to fire at them, killing them so that they could become Martyrs. Before police had arrived, Michael Adebowale handed a letter to one of the women which detailed in their minds, their own justification for their actions. 

During all of this, people were still recording the scene on their phones, not only from the scene itself but by nearby houses. More crowds gathered and soon clips were appearing online. I remember seeing some of the clips and feeling heartbroken (still feeling heartbroken now) seeing Lee's body just laid there in the street. I don't think anybody could take that terrible image out of their minds, you just wanted to go to him and try and do something. It was so terrible and so unbelievable. 

So the police saw the gun and fired at the pair but not to kill them, much to their dislike. Michael Adebowale had his thumb shot off and the pair were rushed to hospital. 

This whole nightmare was shown both online and on the news and Lyn Rigby was watching but she couldn't tell if the boy on the ground was her son as Lee's hoodie had been pulled up over his head. She did have a feeling and obviously later on the horrific confirmation came through.

The monsters were treated in hospital and then released into custody. Not a shred of remorse from the pair of them and Michael Adebowale was still preaching his twisted view of Islam and told the investigators that Lee had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. He said that he felt that Allah had chosen him and then he noticed the Army rucksack and Help For Heroes hoodie that Lee was wearing and that confirmed for them that he was a soldier. The men told investigators that they were both soldiers of Allah. 

Later on that evening when more and more people in the UK turned on the news and saw the horrific events of the day, there was shock and disbelief, anger and rage and some members of the public took to the streets. There was a mixture of anger and panic at what had happened. For this to have taken place in the United Kingdom in broad daylight was just too much to take in. It wasn't the first terrorist attack we had seen and sadly it wasn't the last but this attack was even more frightening because it was a random murder in the street with everyday household items. We had seen attacks on transport and public places and that was horrific but what happened to Lee seemed so personal and paranoia had set in about who was going to be next. It seemed that anyone could pick up a weapon and do anything at anytime to anyone. It was a very tense and scary time.

The road where Lee was murdered began to fill up with tributes and flowers and it was a scene that reminded me of Princess Diana's death. There was so many flowers. 

(Members of the public come out to pay their respects  to Lee Rigby on the day of his funeral. Picture credit: Irish Times)

The anger at the death of Lee Rigby, I feel, is the same level of anger that the UK public have for the Moors Murderers (Myra Hindley and Ian Brady), Peter Sutcliffe (The Yorkshire Ripper) and the killers of James Bulger (Robert Thompson and Jon Venables). Of course, everyone is angered and disgusted at every murder case but there's certain cases that the British public just can't deal with and I don't think it would take Albert Einstein to work out what would happen to these murderers (including the killers of Lee Rigby) if they were ever released, or identified as the case is with James Bulger's killers who've had their identities changed (one was released to full anonymity and the other ended up back behind bars for child abuse images found on his computer). The Moors Murderers and Peter Sutcliffe are all now deceased. 

With what happened to Lee, there was potential for absolute mayhem to have erupted in the streets and although there was some incidences of violence and yes that was shocking enough, it didn't escalate into a full blown war. The majority of people came together and leaders from all backgrounds and religions came out to pay their respects to Lee and his family. 

Lee was given a military funeral and both the Prime Minister (David Cameron) and future Prime Minister, Boris Johnson attended. 

During the investigation into the case, several houses were searched and certain people were arrested who were connected to Adebolajo and Adebowale. The people who were arrested were later released without charge.

When the pair appeared via video link at the Old Bailey in London they pleaded not guilty to the murder of Lee Rigby. Their trial began on the 29th of November 2013 where they both announced that they'd changed their names. Michael Adebolajo was now to be known as Mujaahid Abu Hamza and Michael Adebowale stated his name was now Ismail Abdullah. It's unclear why they both changed their names, maybe as a way of not being identified in prison? who knows?

There wasn't a peep out of them during the trial until they were sentenced. The judge made a remark about what they had done had been a betrayal of Islam. This prompted the usually quiet, Michael Adebowale (Ismail Abdullah) to have an outburst, shouting about it being lies and soon Michael Adebolajo (Mujaahid Abu Hamza) joined in. They caused chaos and had to be removed from the court. Sentencing carried on without them. Adebolajo was sentenced to a full life term and will never be released. Adebowale was given 45 years in prison. They both appealed to have their sentences reduced but obviously that failed.

When it came to a memorial for Lee, there was a lot of confusion, even to this day. The family are reported to be happy with the memorial that was placed in his hometown and they also started up an amazing charity in his name: The Lee Rigby Foundation which helps support military families.

As for other memorials, on the 1st of September 2014, Lee was honoured in a ceremony and his name was placed on the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum. 

The football club, Millwall FC dedicated a memorial to Lee at their stadium called ''The Big Den'' with money also going to charity and a plaque donated by a local funeral service company. 

Some other memorials have been planned but in some cases it has been a sensitive subject as certain councils are concerned of any trouble as makeshift memorials for Lee have often been desecrated.

Lee was a wonderful person and it's comforting to know that his son Jack is growing up to hear all of these wonderful things about what his father achieved in his life and how he is considered a hero. 

And for the two monsters who carried out this sickening attack? well, Michael Adebolajo later claimed from his jail cell that he regretted what he had done and that he had been brainwashed. Nobody knows if this is him being genuine or just trying to get his sentence reduced but Lyn says she will never forgive him.

At the time of writing this post (January 2021), Michael Adebowale is on a ventilator in hospital because he has contracted Covid-19. Like I mentioned before about the anger that the public still feel towards these men, as soon as members of the public saw the news about Adebowale in the newspapers they took to Twitter to celebrate and some even demanded that he be refused medical care. 

Lyn was quoted by a newspaper as saying ''If he dies of Covid-19, that is not justice''.

UPDATE (February 2021): Michael Adebowale has now been released from hospital and has been returned to prison to continue his sentence.

Whatever happens, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale should never been released onto the streets and thankfully it looks like that's a certain case.

RIP Lee James Rigby, You will never be forgotten.

Thank you for taking the time to read my 69th post and please check out Lyn Rigby's book. 

See you in the next post (my 70th!!) x 

Further reading & sources:

Lee Rigby Foundation

Help For Heroes

Michael Adebowale, Covid-19 News Report (BBC)

Murder of Lee Rigby | Wikipedia

Lee Rigby Case | BBC News Report

Lee Rigby | Sky News Report 

Lee Rigby | Channel 4 News Report

Lee Rigby Documentary

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  1. I just read your new case. I knew about the case but I never watch any video fro the crime scene. Lately, I read the story about Michael Adebowale. I agree with Lyn Rigby, if he dies from Covid-19, it will not be justice.
    As I was reading the case, I kept asking myself…WHY ??? These two monsters wanted to kill a soldier for Allah… I’m always shock when I read about religious crimes, especially muslim. Even a father of 6 children is capable of such a barbaric crime. Lee Rigby served his country with dignity, devotion and proudness. Today, he is dead and it’s hearbreaking. My thought are with his young son Jake and with his mother Lyn.

    I’m glad that in memories of Lee, he had a wonderful military funerals, a memorial services and also that the football team take the time to honor him for the man he was.

    Thank you so much for sharing that article with us. You’ve pay a fantastic tribute to Lee and these 2 monsters must stay behind bars forever (assuming that Michael survived Covid-19…). RIP Lee Rigby Xxx

  2. I remember seeing this story happen in the news and the memories of the Boston Marathon Bombing which I was present for when it happened were still fresh in my mind.
    I remember seeing this and I couldn't help but feel a connection of sorrow and heartbreak between what I had seen in Boston and what I watched unfold in the news in London.
    Military personnel know there are certain dangers that they are going to face, but there are certain places where you wouldn't expect those dangers to strike. For that danger to strike at home is heartbreaking and infuriating.

    I've edited this comment as I'm not certain how I feel about Michael Adebowale getting treatment for Covid-19. I can see where Lyn is coming from yet I don't know about the guy getting treatment that could be used to help those that truly deserve the help.

    God bless Lee Rigby and his family and may those two never see the light of day.

  3. Thank you so much for the comments and taking time to read the post. I really appreciate it x