One of the alleged killers of Lee Rigby had a look of “pure evil” after he and another man hacked at the soldier’s body in a “frenzied” attack, a court has heard.
Jurors at the Old Bailey heard a series of graphic eyewitness accounts including from James Henegan and Cheralee Armstrong who feared they would be shot when one of the men pointed a gun at them.
Mr Henegan broke down in tears when he was told by one of the defendant’s barristers there was nothing he could have done to have prevented the death of Fusilier Rigby.
Fusilier Rigby’s widow Rebecca whose family live at Southowram left the oak-panelled courtroom weeping as statements described how her husband was allegedly murdered as he walked back to Woolwich Barracks in south east London on May 22.
Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, are accused of running the soldier over and hacking him to death with a meat cleaver and knives. They deny a charge of murder, as well as further counts of attempting to murder a police officer and conspiracy to murder a police officer.
Prosecutor Richard Whittam QC read a statement by eyewitness Ms 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.”
Mr 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.”
Gill Hucks, who was driving through the area in her red Kia Picanto with her colleague Gary Perkins, described her shock at the attack.
“What I saw then I can only describe as a horrific frenzied attack on the man on the floor by two knife-wielding crazy men,” she said. “I had almost totally lost control and was screaming.”
She said she saw one of the men “playing to the cameras” as people filmed the aftermath of the attack on their mobile phones.
Another witness, Amanda Bailey - whose statement was also read by Mr Whittam, said she thought Fusilier Rigby was dead after he was run over.
“I could see that his eyes were still open but they looked frozen. He wasn’t moving or making any noise,” she said.
“I thought that he was dead or in shock. I couldn’t see any visible injuries on him.”
Ms Bailey described one of the men trying to decapitate Fusilier Rigby.
“He was using a lot of force to hack at the young man’s neck. The motion of his arm was that he was raising it up and bringing it down”, she said.
“I was so shocked all I could do was sit there and stare and what happened, I couldn’t believe what was going on. He was determined and he wasn’t going to stop. He didn’t care. It was broad daylight and this man didn’t care.”
Saraj Miah, who was seen in a CCTV clip talking with a local shopkeeper near the scene, pleaded with the two attackers not to kill the soldier, the court heard.
He said: “I thought that the two black men with knives were going to kill him. I told them not to kill him. They did not listen to me.”
Mr Miah added: “I was very shocked by the incident,” he added. “I could not sleep for two weeks.”
Thomas Seymour, an electrician for Greenwich Borough Council, was driving his green van back to his depot when he witnessed the attack. He said he saw one of the men stab the soldier with “forceful” actions between the chest and belly button “10 or 20 times”.
Gary Perkins, who was travelling in the same car as Ms Hucks, was the first person to give evidence in person.
Dressed in a black three-piece suit and patterned tie, Mr Perkins confirmed that he had described the actions of one of the alleged killers as being like a “butcher attacking a joint of meat”.
Mr Perkins said he was attacking the body on the ground with “frenzied stabbing-type motions”.
Earlier in the day, the jury was shown images of Adebolajo on May 21 purchasing a five-piece set of knives and a knife sharpener at the Lewisham branch of Argos.
They were also shown CCTV stills of the car being driven by Adebolajo at different locations in Lewisham, Greenwich and Woolwich.