THE family of murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby has welcomed the lengthy jail terms for his killers, saying he will now be able to rest in peace.
Michael Adebolajo, aged 29, was given a whole-life term for the barbaric killing and Michael Adebowale, aged 22, was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 45 years.
Mr Rigby had been drummer with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2RRF), and his funeral took place at Bury Parish Church attended by thousands of mourners.
His mother, Lyn Rigby, aged 47, of Middleton, said she could never forgive the fanatics who took her son’s life, but had been comforted by the sentences.
A family statement said: “The Rigby family welcomes the whole life and significant sentences that have been passed down on Lee’s killers.
“We feel that no other sentence would have been acceptable and we would like to thank the judge and the courts for handing down what we believe to be the right prison terms.
“We would also like to thank everyone who has supported us in the past nine months.
“It has brought us a lot of comfort and we feel satisfied that justice has been served for Lee. It just remains to be said: rest in peace Lee.”
Adebolajo and Adebowale had to be dragged from the dock at the Old Bailey last Wednesday after they erupted with rage when Mr Justice Sweeney told the British-born extremists they had been radicalised and had betrayed their religion.
The judge sentenced the “sickening and pitiless” killers in their absence for murdering the father-of-one in broad daylight near Woolwich Barracks on May 22 last year.
The young Fusilier’s funeral was held at Bury Parish Church and the town came came to a standstill as thousands of people from across the country lined the streets to pay their respects.
Explaining his decision to give Adebolajo a whole-life term, Judge Sweeney said the 29-year-old, who has two children and four stepchildren, was the leader of the murderous plot and had “no real prospect of rehabilitation”.
However, Adebowale’s younger age, mental health problems and “lesser role” meant that he was spared spending the rest of his natural life behind bars.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, Fusilier Rigby’s widow Rebecca said: “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.”
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.