Rigby killers sentenced next week

Witney Gazette: Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Michael Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo as they were found guilty of the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby. Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Michael Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo as they were found guilty of the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby.

Soldier Lee Rigby's killers will be sentenced next week.

The sentencing of Michael Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo will take place at the Old Bailey on Wednesday February 26 at 2pm.

The date was confirmed by a Judicial Office spokeswoman today.

The announcement comes just hours after Court of Appeal judges gave a crucial ruling backing the imposition of whole-life tariffs in cases involving the most "heinous" murders.

Trial judge Mr Justice Sweeney had put the sentencing of Adebowale and Adebolajo on hold pending the ruling on whole-life orders by a panel of five judges in London, headed by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas.

British Muslim converts Adebolajo, 29, and Adebowale, 22, ran Fusilier Rigby down in a car before hacking him to death with a meat cleaver and knives in a frenzied attack.

They dumped his body in the middle of the road near Woolwich Barracks in south east London on May 22 last year.

After they were convicted at the Old Bailey in December, t he verdicts - which took the jury just 90 minutes to reach - provoked widespread condemnation of the attack from high-profile figures including the Prime Minister and Home Secretary Theresa May.

Adebolajo, a married father of six, and Adebowale lay in wait near Woolwich Barracks and picked 25-year-old Fusilier Rigby to kill after assuming he was a soldier because he was wearing a Help for Heroes hooded top and carrying a camouflage rucksack.

After driving into the young father in their Vauxhall Tigra, the killers - who had armed themselves with eight knives, including a meat cleaver and a five-piece set bought by Adebolajo the previous day - butchered him in the street in front of horrified onlookers.

One witness described their actions, yards from Mulgrave Primary School, as being ''like a butcher attacking a joint of meat''.

The jury of eight women and four men sat through weeks of evidence including shocking footage of Adebolajo with bloodied hands confessing to the killing and claiming his actions were ''an eye for an eye''.

Both men were shot by police in dramatic scenes captured by CCTV.

Adebolajo was seen dropping the meat cleaver as he sprinted across the road towards a police car, collapsing to the ground when he was shot.

Adebowale, who moved along a wall to draw fire from the officers, was seen folding over as he was shot by one of three armed officers.

Both men asked to be called by their adopted Islamic names in court - Adebolajo as Mujahid Abu Hamza, and Adebowale as Ismail Ibn Abdullah - and claimed they carried out the murder because they were ''soldiers of Allah''.

The jury was told this was no defence in law to the charge.

The men were cleared of the attempted murder of a police officer, and had previously admitted possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

It was recently announced that Adebolajo has lodged an application to appeal against his conviction.

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