31 May 2013

Lee Rigby working at Tower of London on day he died

Drummer Lee Rigby, the soldier murdered in south east London, was returning to Woolwich barracks when he was killed, his inquest is told.

He had been working at the Tower of London in the morning of 22 May.

Detective Chief Inspector Grant Mallon, from Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command, said Lee Rigby was hit by a car before being attacked by two men armed with a cleaver and a knife in Woolwich.

They then dragged his lifeless body into the middle of the road, and encouraged passers-by to look at what they had done, he said.

Dental expert

Southwark coroner’s court heard that the 25-year-old was identified by a dental expert. A post-mortem examination has already found that he died from multiple cut and stab wounds.

During a visit to Woolwich barracks on Friday, the Queen privately acknowledged the death.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said she was meeting “those who co-ordinated the barracks’ response to the events of last week and some of those who formed part of Drummer Rigby’s chain of command”.

Mr Mallon told the court: “On Wednesday 22 May, at approximately 2.20pm, Lee was returning to barracks after a day working at the Tower of London.

“As he walked into Artillery Place, a vehicle is seen to swerve into the carriageway on which he was walking and strike him.

“The two occupants of the vehicle then exit the vehicle and attack him with a cleaver and a knife.”

‘Extensive injuries’

He said Drummer Rigby suffered “extensive and serious injuries”, and investigations into his murder are continuing.

Adjouring the inquest, Lorna Tagliavini, the deputy coroner, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to give my personal condolences to all members of Lee Rigby’s family for their very sad loss.” Members of Drummer Rigby’s family were not in court.

Michael Adebowale, 22, has been charged with his murder and appeared before Westminster magistrates on Thursday. He is due at the Old Bailey on Monday.

Another suspect, Michael Adebolajo, 28, is under arrest at a London hospital. Both men were shot by police after Drummer Rigby’s death.

In total, eight people have been arrested in connection with his death, with six bailed and two released without charge.

Religious leaders

After Friday prayers, religious leaders in Woolwich will gather at Greenwich Islamic Centre to mark Drummer Rigby’s death.

The commander of Woolwich barracks, Lieutenant Colonel Bob Christopher, said: “Drummer Lee Rigby was in London reaching out to young men and women who want to serve their country by joining the armed forces. This was a job he loved doing, and he was very good at it.”

Drummer Rigby’s fiancee Aimee West has released a brief tribute to him through Scotland Yard, saying: “I am extremely proud of him and I am moved by all the flowers and tributes, and that he has been remembered by the nation as the great man that he was.”