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Devastated family of Lee Rigby will never forget young soldier

Rebecca Rigby (second left), the wife of Fusilier Lee Rigby, weeps as a statement is read out by Detective Inspector Pete Sparks (right) after Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale were found guilty of his murder. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 19, 2013. See PA story COURTS Woolwich. Photo credit should read: Max Nash/PA Wire

Rebecca Rigby (second left), the wife of Fusilier Lee Rigby, weeps as a statement is read out by Detective Inspector Pete Sparks (right) after Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale were found guilty of his murder. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 19, 2013. See PA story COURTS Woolwich. Photo credit should read: Max Nash/PA Wire

The devastated family of Lee Rigby have said they will “never forget” the young soldier as two Muslim extremists were convicted of his barbaric murder.

Michael Adebolajo, 29, showed no remorse as he kissed his Koran after he and fellow killer Michael Adebowale, 22, were told they face life behind bars.

Fusilier Rigby’s relatives, including mother Lyn, widow Rebecca and fiancee Aimee West, wept as the verdicts were given at the Old Bailey, and Mr Justice Sweeney praised their “great dignity” in sitting through harrowing evidence.

The 25-year-old drummer, who had served in Afghanistan, married Southowram girl Rebecca Metcalfe at St Anne’s Church, Southowram, in October 2007.

In a statement read by Detective Inspector Pete Sparks, the family said: “No one should have to go through what we have been through as a family.

“We are satisfied that justice has been done, but unfortunately no amount of justice will bring Lee back.

“These people have taken him away from us forever but his memory lives on in all of us and we will never forget him.

“We are very proud of Lee, who served his country, and we will now focus on building a future for his son Jack, making him as proud of Lee as we all are.

“Lee will be sorely missed by his siblings, nieces, nephew and all of those who loved him.

“We now ask that we are left alone to grieve through our loss.”

British Muslim converts Adebolajo and Adebowale mowed the young father down in a car before hacking him to death with a meat cleaver and knives in a frenzied attack, and dumping his body in the middle of the road near Woolwich Barracks in south east London on May 22.

The 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.

In stark contrast to the family’s grief, Adebolajo’s brother Jeremiah told reporters the attack on the soldier was “inevitable” and the justification for his death was “obvious”.

Adebolajo, a married father of six, and Adebowale lay in wait near Woolwich Barracks and picked 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.

The jurors 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 more dramatic scenes to be captured by CCTV.

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 had carried out the murder because they are “soldiers of Allah”.

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

Speaking outside the court building, Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, who leads Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism teams, said: “This horrific attack and murder which took place in broad daylight on the streets of London shocked the whole country.

“It was intended to divide our communities, it has had largely the opposite effect and in fact brought people together.”

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

Mr Justice Sweeney said he will sentence the pair in the new year, after a key appeal court ruling on the use of whole-life jail terms.

 

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