Lee Rigby's son 'will be forced to see images of his dad that no son should ever have to endure'

Bury Times: GRIEF: Rebecca Rigby GRIEF: Rebecca Rigby

The son of murdered soldier Lee Rigby will be forced to see "images of his dad that no son should ever have to endure", his widow has said.

A moving victim impact statement written by Rebecca Rigby was read to the Old Bailey today, where her husband's murderers Michael Adebolajo, aged 29, and Michael Adebowale, aged 22, are due to be sentenced later this afternoon.

Prosecutor Richard Whittam QC read excerpts of the statement, in which Mrs Rigby described the effect of suddenly being in the public gaze after the brutal killing.

She said: "I was also living in the public gaze. I couldn't go out or do anything. I felt like I didn't want to go on. I saw people nudging and looking at me if I tried to walk down the street, it was surreal.

"Of all the feelings I have, the one thing that overrides everything is that I know my son will grow up and see images of his dad that no son should ever have to endure, and there is nothing I can do to change this."

Islamist fanatics Adebolajo and Adebowale hit Fusilier Rigby, aged 25, in a car before hacking him to death near Woolwich barracks in south east London on May 22 last year.

Mrs Rigby said that she had accepted her husband would be at risk when he went to serve in Afghanistan, but not in Britain, where he was based when he died.

She said: "When you wave someone off you accept that there is a chance you will never see them again. You do not expect to see this on the streets of the UK.

"Lee will never be forgotten. We will always love him and miss him every day."

The court also heard part of a statement from the soldier's stepfather, Ian Rigby.

He said: "After all he had been through in Afghanistan all Lee was doing was just walking through London.

"Just seeing on the television and seeing the violence of it you just can't comprehend. You take it all in and it doesn't click in your head, it is like being somewhere else.

"You're watching it without being actually there."

Mr Whittam said that the family's lives had been devastated.

He said: "The scale of the impact on them of the nature of the murder of Lee Rigby in the circumstances made so public during the trial and after such a killing causing a son to pre-decease his parents and stepfather and leave those others who loved him without a husband or a soul mate is too obvious to set out in detail.

"He had, as your lordship knows, a young son. All their lives have been irreparably changed for the worse."

Adebolajo's defending barrister David Gottlieb argued against his client being handed a whole-life order, with no hope of parole.

Mr Gottlieb said: "He should not in these circumstances be deprived of any hope of release."

The barrister said Adebolajo was "not someone incapable of change without proper encouragement".

Adebolajo, who has two children and four stepchildren, did not intend to physically injure anyone other than the victim, he said.

Mr Gottlieb went on: "There's no evidence that the defendants were part of a wider network or cell or support group."

While the killing of a British soldier had caused anger, Mr Gottlieb said, his murder can not be likened to a mass casualty event like the 7/7 attacks in London.

Fusilier Rigby's murder shares characteristics of a hate crime or the killing of a police officer, more than a murder to advance a political cause, Mr Gottlieb said.

The barrister said it was accepted the defendants ran the soldier over in a car to render him unconscious.

Nor is there any evidence they deliberately mutilated Fusilier Rigby's body, he added.

"There's evidence he can be rehabilitated now, not much evidence but some evidence," Mr Gottlieb said.

Abbas Lakha QC, for Adebowale, said that the 22-year-old should not be sentenced to die behind bars "unless the court is driven to the conclusion without any doubt at all that it is a just sentence".

He cited the case of Pavlo Lapshyn, who was also sentenced by Mr Justice Sweeney for the racist murder of Mohammed Saleem and a series of mosque bombings, but escaped a whole life term.

Mr Lakha said: "There was no evidence they were part of a larger organisation or group, nor was there any evidence that in carrying out the act of the killing that they did any more than what they believed was the command of God, certainly not in furtherance of a religious or ideological cause supported by a group that they were members of."

The court heard that the pair did not plan to kill anyone else, having been acquitted of a count each of attempted murder of a police officer, and that Adebowale's relatively young age should be taken into account.

"He is still a young man, we respectfully submit that his age is a significant mitigating factor which must be borne in mind," Mr Lakha said.

He also told the court that psychiatric problems that Adebowale has suffered, while not a defence, should be taken into consideration when passing sentence, and that although the murder was a joint enterprise the pair should be sentenced as individuals.

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