TWO murderers who brutally hacked soldier Lee Rigby to death in Woolwich fought with prison officers and shouted "allahu akbar" before they were given life sentences today (February 26).
In an unprovoked attack, British Muslim fanatics Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale mowed down the 25-year-old in a Vauxhall Tigra as he crossed the road to Woolwich Barracks on May 22.
This afternoon Adebolajo was sentenced to a whole-life term, while Adebowale must serve a minimum of 45 years in jail.
There were protestors with nooses chanting outside the Old Bailey ahead of the sentencing.
And, prior to their sentencing, violence broke out in the dock when Judge Justice Sweeney told the killers they had “betrayed Muslims”.
Adebolajo shouted “that is a lie” before a scuffle broke out between the defendants and security staff in the dock with the pair chanting “Allah, Allah”.
The pair were dragged down into the cells leaving Judge Sweeney to sentence them in their absence.
He said: “It is no exaggeration to say that what you did resulted in a bloodbath.
“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 who challenged what you had done and said.”
Sentencing Adebolajo to his whole life in prison he said there was no chance of his rehabilitation. He added: “It is one of those rare cases where the seriousness is extremely high."
He went on to say the lesser sentence for Adebowale was down to his age (22), lesser involvement in the crime and pre-existing mental health conditions.
In a statement read after the sentencing 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."
Prosecuting, Richard Whittam had called for the judge to give the killers whole-life terms and spoke of the impact on the soldier's family.
He said: "All their lives have been irrevocably changed for the worst."
In a victim impact statement by Mr Rigby's widow Rebecca she said: "I was so much in the public gaze, I couldnt go anywhere or do anything. I felt like I didn't want to go on."
She went on to say the worst thing was her son Jack will grow up with those public images of his father.
She added: "Lee will never be forgotten. We will always love him and miss him everyday."
Speaking against a whole life ruling David Gottlieb, defending Adebolajo, said: "The defendant is not so deprived of all human dignity that he has no possibility of atonement in the future."
Calling for a more lenient sentence for Adebowale, Abbas Lakha added that such a sentence would be "inhuman, extinguishing any hope of release."
Horrified eyewitnesses to the murder described how the father-of-one was butchered “like a joint of meat” before being dragged into the road, yards from Mulgrave Primary School.
After the killing, the blood-smeared pair waited for armed police officers to arrive, while talking to passers-by and posing for pictures before Adebolajo sprinted at a police car with a meat cleaver while Adebowale ran against a wall holding a gun.
Married father-of-six Adebolajo, who admitted the sickening killing but denied murder, told Old Bailey jurors he loved al-Qaeda and was a “soldier for Allah” killing another soldier as part of a war.
The 29-year-old, of Oakwood Close, Lewisham, was sentenced after previously being found guilty of murder.
Adebowale, aged 22, of Thames Street, Greenwich, was also convicted of murder.
Their fate behind bars comes after a landmark Court of Appeal ruling last month which upheld UK judges’ right to jail the most serious offenders for the rest of their lives.
Adebolajo is currently appealing his conviction at the Court of Appeal.
The pair chose Fusilier Rigby, from Crumpsall, Manchester, as their victim because he was wearing a Help for Heroes hooded top that day, and they assumed he was a soldier.
Old Bailey jurors found the pair guilty of murder but not guilty of attempting to murder a police officer on December 19.
Arrests outside court
Three people were arrested outside the Old Bailey today as far-right protesters gathered ahead of the sentencing.
Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the court building, waving Union flags and chanting.
A City of London Police spokesman said two men were arrested, one on suspicion of actual bodily harm and one for affray.
A woman was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly.
The police spokesman said there was a "significant police presence" in the area.
The street has been closed in both directions outside the court .
Supporters of the British National Party and the English Defence League gathered around gallows which had been constructed in the street and many held placards which read: "Restore capital punishment".
The crowd cheered when the sentences was announced.
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Map: Events of May 22 when Lee Rigby was killed
Pictures: Photos from the day of the attack and afterwards