The family of murdered soldier Lee Rigby have said they are "satisfied that justice has been served" after a judge sentenced one of the Muslim fanatics who killed him to die behind bars and jailed the other for at least 45 years. They said that Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale had received the "right prison terms".
The pair were sentenced at the Old Bailey by Mr Justice Sweeney, who had waited for a key appeal court ruling on whole life terms before deciding the men's fate. Adebolajo, 29, was given a whole life term while Adebowale, 22, was jailed for life with a minimum of 45 years.
In a statement read by family liaison officer Detective Inspector Pete Sparks, the soldier's family said: "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 last nine months.
"It has brought us a lot of comfort and we feel satisfied that justice has been served for Lee. We now ask to continue to grieve in private."
The British-born extremists mowed Fusilier Rigby down in a car before hacking him to death in the street in front of horrified onlookers near Woolwich Barracks in south east London in May last year. They both claimed that they were "soldiers of Allah" and were motivated by the plight of Muslims abroad to carry out the killing, and have shown no remorse.
After sentencing began the two men shouted at Mr Justice Sweeney in protest at his remarks and were pinned to the ground by several security guards and taken back to the cells. Mr Justice Sweeney was forced to sentence the men in their absence after they were bundled out of the courtroom following their violent outburst.
Fusilier Rigby's family sobbed as the killers shouted across the historic courtroom, with Adebolajo shouting "allahu akbar", and Adebowale calling out "that's a lie" and "it's not a betrayal of Islam" as the judge told them they had been radicalised.
The judge said the pair's behaviour was "sickening and pitiless", and that Adebolajo had no hope of rehabilitation. "Your sickening and pitiless conduct was in stark contrast to the compassion and bravery shown by the various women at the scene who tended to Lee Rigby's body and challenged what you had done and said."
The struggle in the dock was triggered when the killers, both wearing Islamic robes, reacted angrily to comments that Mr Justice Sweeney made about their extremist beliefs. He told them: "You each converted to Islam some years ago. Thereafter you were radicalised and each became an extremist, espousing views which, as has been said elsewhere, are a betrayal of Islam."
Adebowale protested that this was a lie, ranting about America and Britain, and his accomplice joined in, screaming "allahu akbar" and hurling abuse at the prison guards who grappled him to the ground. Both men were grabbed around the face as guards struggled to control them, and taken down to the cells.
The soldier's family were visibly distressed, and one relative needed medical treatment. The judge made sure that the family were OK before starting his sentencing remarks again. He said that the murder also betrayed "the peaceful Muslim communities who give so much to our country", and that the men had carried out the killing to show "your extremist views, to murder a soldier in public in broad daylight and to do so in a way that would generate maximum media coverage including getting yourselves killed by armed officers who were bound to arrive at the scene".
Describing how the pair mowed the 25-year-old down at 30-40mph, he said: "He had done absolutely nothing to deserve what you went on to do to him." Mr Justice Sweeney added: "It is no exaggeration to say that what the two of you did resulted in a bloodbath." Adebolajo tried to behead the soldier while Adebowale stabbed him in the chest. You both gloried in what you had done," the judge told the court, and said it had a "severe and lasting impact" on his loved ones.
There were also dramatic scenes outside the Old Bailey as roads near the court were closed and members of the public shouted at prison vans leaving the building. A number of far right protesters had remained outside the court all day, with two sets of gallows, calling for the killers to face the death penalty.
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