30 May 2013

Michael Adebowale in court charged with Lee Rigby murder

Home Affairs Correspondent

Woolwich suspect Michael Adebowale leaves court in police custody after he was charged late on Wednesday with the street murder of Drummer Lee Rigby a week ago.

The 22-year-old, who was shot by armed police after the soldier was killed, was charged by the Metropolitan Police following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Sue Hemming, head of the CPS Special Crime and Counter-Terrorism Division, said: “Crown prosecutors have been working with the investigators of Counter Terrorism Command since the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby on 22 May.

“Following the release of Michael Adebowale from hospital, we have authorised the police to charge him with the murder of Drummer Rigby.

Firearm

“We have also authorised police to charge him with possession of a firearm, contrary to section 16A of the Firearms Act 1968.

“There is sufficient evidence to prosecute Michael Adebowale and it is in the public interest to do so.”

Our Home Affairs Correspondent Darshna Soni was in court.

She said: “Michael Adebowale was led into court in handcuffs, escorted by police officers. His hand was bandaged and he appeared to walk with some difficulty.

This was only the start of the court process and so just a brief hearing. The charges were read out, before the magistrate transferred his case to the Old Bailey.

The 22 year old was then remanded in custody. A bail hearing has been set for Monday 3rd June.

Brutal murder

The alleged attackers, Michael Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo, 28, were both shot in the wake of the brutal murder near Woolwich barracks, south-east London. Adebowale was discharged from hospital and taken into police custody on Tuesday, while Adebolajo remains in hospital.

Several suspects have been arrested during the last week.

The CPS said it was continuing to advise police in relation to the other suspects arrested during their investigation into Drummer Rigby’s death.

The fiancee of Drummer Rigby said on Wednesday she was”devastated” by his loss and has been moved by all the tributes to a “great man”.

Aimee West released a short statement through Scotland Yard to say: “I am devastated by the loss of Lee who was a loving fiance.

“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.”

Tributes left at scene

Piles of floral tributes have been left near the murder scene.

Earlier, detectives issued a new appeal for information at the scene as it was confirmed that the soldier died from multiple stab wounds.

Tributes have already been paid to the 25-year-old by relatives including his wife Rebecca, who is the mother of his two-year-old son Jack, and stepfather Ian.

Commander Simon Letchford has renewed appeals for any witnesses to the attack, or anyone with any information, to come forward.

Vauxhall Tigra

Police are also calling for information on the blue Vauxhall Tigra, registration N696 JWX, that hit Drummer Rigby last Wednesday afternoon.

Speaking at the scene in Woolwich, Mr Letchford said: “Seven days ago Lee Rigby was murdered in an act of violence that was shocking and horrific.

“Our thoughts are with Lee’s family and friends at this very difficult time for them.

“A fast-paced and complex investigation is now under way led by detectives from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command.

“As part of that investigation, officers are asking for the public’s help. We need to hear from anyone who may have seen Lee being attacked or who may have any other information that may help.

“This has been a difficult time for everyone in our city. What is important now is that we, as Londoners, come together.

“I would urge people to continue to show restraint and calm as our investigation continues to bring those responsible for Lee’s death to justice.”

Appeal posters

Officers from the Counter Terrorism Command, Greenwich Borough and the Safer Transport Command distributed appeal posters and leaflets near where Drummer Rigby was killed.

Police also urged anyone who filmed or took photographs to send the moving or still images to woolwich@metincident.co.uk , including their name and contact details, and not to delete them after sending them.

Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, praised for her bravery in calmly talking to one of the attackers as he stood clutching a knife with bloodied hands, returned to the scene of the murder today.

Speaking beside the piles of floral tributes to Drummer Rigby, she said: “It’s the public displaying their shock and showing that they are behind the British Army and the soldiers and that this is something they will not accept.”

The Frenchwoman, who has lived in Britain for nearly 30 years, has been thrust into the limelight since she confronted one of the alleged killers.

A senior officer also revealed that the police marksmen involved in shooting two of the 25-year-old’s suspected killers could be back on duty within weeks.

Chief Superintendent Alistair Sutherland said he “certainly hopes” officers involved in the shooting of the two suspects will return to normal duties soon.

He said: “I will obviously speak to my counterparts in our department for professional standards and I will liaise with the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission), and then I will come to a decision around putting them back to ops.

“But at this stage, I would anticipate them being back on operational duty fairly quickly.”

The officers, along with two of their commanders, are currently undergoing post-shooting assessments.

The IPCC is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the shooting of the two men.

It said that two police officers had fired gun shots and one used their Taser when they were confronted.

An inquest into Drummer Rigby’s death will be opened and adjourned tomorrow, and a post-mortem examination has confirmed that he died from multiple incised wounds.

Arrests

So far, 10 people have been held by detectives investigating the young soldier’s death, including Michael Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo.

In a statement released through his lawyers, Hayden Allen, 21, who was held on Saturday on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder, denied any involvement in the “atrocity”. He was released on bail.

Others held include a 50-year-old man, arrested in Welling, south-east London, who has been released on bail.

Two women, aged 29 and 31, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder but later released without charge.