10 – Getting to Grips with Some Unknowns

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There are four holes in our understanding of the attack on Lee Rigby by motor vehicle. These are as follows:

  1. Where the Tigra left the road and mounted the pavement – its pathway across the pavement after that.
  2. The speed of the Tigra as it hit Rigby and as it travelled on the pavement.
  3. The driving ability of Adebolajo to be able to adequately control the Tigra.
  4. The place on the scene where Rigby finally came to rest.

There are several chapters below that are dedicated to ascertaining the correct speed of the Tigra in two important moments of its travel – when it hit Rigby, and when it hit the road sign stanchion. The rest are to be covered in this chapter, starting immediately with the first:

The issue of where the Tigra left the road, etc.

A February 2014 graphic released by the BBC[1] seemed to be showing that the Tigra mounted the pavement to the right, or the eastern side of the lamp post. This graphic seems to provide the only description of the Tigra pathway available to us. As it comes from the BBC, perhaps we should consider it to be official – and if in that case, this is where we get the notion that the Tigra mounted close to the lamp post whichever side it approached on. Where the graphic is annotated with the number 6, this is supposedly where the car was at the moment pictured in Fig. 27 – although there is a problem with this that will be examined later. Given that the distance between the lamp post and the road sign is no more than 30 feet, it would be very hard to imagine entrance into the area any nearer the crash point because of how the Tigra was supposed to have straightened up.

Fig. 49 – BBC graphic of path of Tigra’s escape from the road.
Fig. 49 – BBC graphic of path of Tigra’s escape from the road.

To this information we can add the testimony of John Power who said of the Tigra:

When it [the Tigra] crossed the central reservation it accelerated and veered diagonally across to the right, mounted the kerb and drove on the pavement. I saw a man being flipped into the air as he was hit.

Chilling images capture moment one of Lee Rigby’s ‘killers calmly walked into Argos to buy a set of knives and sharpening kit – the day before soldier was hacked to death’[2]; Chris Greenwood et al; 02 December 2013.

Fig. 50 – Tigra approach options
Fig. 50 – Tigra approach options

This is important because we learn that the Tigra continued to advance along the pavement – instead of crashing immediately. What we don’t really know is the angle of approach, but we can surely say that the larger the angle into the kerb, the more difficult it would have been to turn the Tigra as it cleared the lamp post in order to straighten up. This manoeuvre has to be done in a space measuring about 30 feet by 15 feet. According to the official narrative, it also had to be done moments after travelling at 30-40mph – which is the speed the car supposedly struck Rigby at. Travelling at 30mph, Adebolajo had about 0.69 seconds to get straight for the crash into the stanchion. Travelling at 40mph he would have had 0.5 seconds. It is reasonable to think that this could not have been possible – there was neither the space nor the time for the Tigra to end up where it did according to the official narrative. The most likely ending would have seen the Tigra hitting the wall at the back of the pavement.

There is another idea regarding what the Tigra could have done and it involves no straightening out whatsoever – it drove in a straight line to hit the stanchion at an angle. One of the problems with this explanation is that it doesn’t immediately seem to account for why the Tigra ended up perpendicular to the road sign. However, there would be an explanation for that.

The image in Fig. 51 reminds of an important issue. A piece of court reporting states the following:

CCTV footage was played to the court showing Amanda Donnelly Martin and her daughter Gemini Donnelly Martin bending over Mr. Rigby.

Court Hears Women Ignored Threats To Try To Help Rigby[3]; Alexis Flynn; 03 December 2013.

There are two items of CCTV footage known to be in existence – both also known to have been shown the court – the Shop and the Council Footage. Lee Rigby, at the moment the reporting is referring to, would be lying in the middle of the left hand lane of the road as we look at Fig. 51. However, this view would have undoubtedly been blocked from this perspective by the white lorry that parked across Rectory Place. So, the CCTV being referred to in the reporting is the Council Footage. Without a doubt we can safely presume that this camera must have captured something useful with regards the Tigra’s mounting the kerb – and yet it wasn’t even shown to the jury.

Fig. 51 – the Tigra should stick out past the end of the shop if it hit the stanchion at an angle?
Fig. 51 – the Tigra should stick out past the end of the shop if it hit the stanchion at an angle?

A few years ago Channel 5’s Fifth Gear demonstrated what happens when a car drives into a reinforced lamp post at 45mph. Such was the expected risk that this test was performed using a remote control operated by a following support vehicle. When the car ploughed into the post the front end wrapped around the vertical column distorting the features of the front face of the car and buckling the bonnet. Presumably on the post reaching the more compact engine which doesn’t crumple, the back end of the vehicle then lifted into the air – the momentum of the car still wanting to drive it forward – and it turned almost if not completely a full 90˚. It was also pushed away from the post as reactionary forces came into play.

Fig. 52 – Rover 820si  hits a galvanised steel lamp post rooted in concrete at 45mph.
Fig. 52 – Rover 820si hits a galvanised steel lamp post rooted in concrete at 45mph.

In the case of the Tigra at Woolwich, the scenario could also have involved a reinforced post under the road sign. The assumption in the Rigby-watching community has been that this post should have collapsed because it should not have been reinforced. However, lots of Britain’s street furniture has not been updated to incorporate safety-crumpling. Additionally, the Tigra also impacted on its left hand side, so feasibly the resultant forces saw the back end of the car swing around to the right. The car could also have been flung away from the post as opposite forces came into effect to land at about 45% to its original trajectory.

The damage on the Rover seems to be much more pronounced than that on the Tigra in that the fold created by the impact seems much deeper. This might reflect how the Rover crashed at a higher speed than the Tigra – supposedly. The lesser degree of turn experienced by the Tigra would also perhaps denote less speed going into the impact. Ultimately, this issue can only be resolved by knowing the speed of the Tigra and understanding if that was sufficient enough to cause the sort of reaction that would spin it enough, throw it away from the post enough and cause enough damage to the front.

Fig. 53 – the damage to the Rover seems more pronounced than on the Tigra.
Fig. 53 – the damage to the Rover seems more pronounced than on the Tigra.

Having said that, there is a problem with this whole approach that tends to discount the scenario from have happening. If the Tigra came in on an angle, its crash with the stanchion should have been visible on the Shop Footage. Any viewer of that should have seen the very obvious lifting and turning. However, there is no mention of such a thing in the court reportage of the footage. Instead, the one most reliable report tells of how the Tigra just carried on moving forward until it disappeared out of view. It means that it is most likely that the Tigra did indeed mount the kerb but then manoeuvre to straighten up – and this is the view that we are going to adopt as being the fact of the matter. It is most likely that Adebolajo took the Tigra up the kerb on the right hand side of the lamp post, and then turned the vehicle so that it lined up straight against the road sign. This brings us to his driving skill, and whether or not he was capable.

Adebolajo’s driving skill

Before we go too far, it must be pointed out, again, that the missing component is speed – and that it is quite a decisive one at that. If the Tigra was going slow, then Adebolajo didn’t need to be a rally driver to place it where it ended up. However, we need to divorce this case and the individual Adebolajo so that we can understand his physical and mental capability to control a car in a tight space at high speed at any instance. Not surprisingly it appears as if the court did not test Adebolajo’s driving ability at all. So, we do not know how good his reflexes are – something that could be measured. We do not know how long Adebolajo had been driving for, or if he was a confident or timid driver, or if he could even see as he should have been able to see in order to drive – in other words, should we have expected him to step out of the car with a pair of glasses on? The abstract Adebolajo was never discovered. Adebolajo’s defence team completely failed to produce any sort of insight into Adebolajo’s driving proficiency, and failed to measure that against the task demanded of him that day.

A competent defence of Adebolajo might have explored an apparent cognitive problem that could have caused clouding of Adebolajo’s judgement and impaired his ability to drive. What is being referred to will be made clearer to the reader later on; it suffices to say that it appears as if he wasn’t experiencing his situation as immediately as he normally should have. This phenomenon wasn’t explored at all, or even identified, and so we just don’t know what effect, if any, it could have had on his driving. The only thing that remains for us to do is to accept as fact that Adebolajo was capable of performing the manoeuvre up the kerb and onto the pavement, around the lamp post and straight into the road sign without hitting the back wall – no matter how hard, or even improbable the manoeuvre was at the stated speed. If it turns out that the speed was too great for anyone to perform the manoeuvre, then we have to recognise that the court assumes that Adebolajo is a super man with powers beyond those of any mere mortal.

Lee Rigby’s final position

Fig. 54 – the main pool of blood in relation to the Tigra.
Fig. 54 – the main pool of blood in relation to the Tigra.

We think that we know where Lee Rigby came to rest after being hit by the Tigra because on certain overhead camera shots taken from news media helicopters there is a major pool of what looks like blood. As not one of the witnesses talks about Rigby being moved to be brutalised with knives, we have to assume that this pool represents, roughly, the place where he landed. From the imagery, which is never very clear, we can estimate that the centre of this pool is about 3 yards north of the northern-most road sign stanchion, and about 1 and a half yards west.

The next thing to work out is where Rigby was in relation to this pool, and we can use witness testimony to try and do this. It means skipping ahead a little to look at statements about the attack on Rigby by knives. The first one is from Ibrahim Elidemir – at least it is what prosecutor Richard Whittam quoted from the statement:

I saw a body lying against the wall, which looked like a dead body. It wasn’t moving.

Recap: Lee Rigby trial updates as Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale accused of Woolwich soldier murder[4]; Paul Cockerton; 02 December 2013

Graham Wilders also reported to corporate-media that he had seen the body lying against the wall. And, since that Amanda Bailey stated the following…

I could see that [Rigby’s] eyes were still open but they looked frozen.

Woolwich Murder: Court Hears Graphic Testimony[5]; Staff writer; 02 December 2013

…it appears as if Rigby was either draped against the wall in an almost seated position, or he was lying down with his back against it and feet facing up the hill so that Bailey could see both his eyes. In fact, further evidence from Bailey, albeit through Prosecutor Whittam’s paraphrasing, clarifies the situation:

[Rigby] was lying face up, with his legs pointing away from the bonnet.

Lee Rigby murder trial recap: Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale accused of Woolwich soldier murder[6]; Paul Cockerton; 29 November 2013.

So far so good – this places Rigby by the wall where the blood pool is, with his head pointing down the road. However, we do not know exactly where in relation with the pool of blood Rigby was, and the testimony is not entirely helpful. When reporting Amanda Bailey’s account, Prosecutor Whittam said the following:

The young man flew off the bonnet and landed about two feet in front of the car.

Fiancée and estranged wife of soldier Lee Rigby flee murder trial in tears as jury is shown CCTV footage of moment ‘Muslim converts ran him down before almost decapitating him with meat cleaver and knives’[7]; Chris Greenwood et al; 29 November 2013

The following is reportage of John Power’s account regarding this issue:

Minicab driver John Power said Mr Rigby ‘crumpled’ to the ground after the car crashed into the signpost.

A smile… then a kiss of the Koran: Lee Rigby’s distraught family leave court in tears after his Muslim killers show no remorse as they are found GUILTY of hacking him to death in London street[8]; Martin Robinson; 19 December 2013

Fig. 55 – a computer generated emulation by Next Media Animation.
Fig. 55 – a computer generated emulation by Next Media Animation.

Please take note, this is not to be read as Power describing the Tigra hitting the road sign stanchion. The only word we know that was used by Power is “crumpled” in relation to Rigby’s interaction with the vehicle as it came to a halt. Despite Whittam’s choice of words, “flying” doesn’t realistically relate to 2 feet of displacement through the air before landing on the ground. If prosecutor Whittham was accurately quoting Amanda Bailey word for word, then it might be understandable if she misspoke feet for yards – it’s a common mistake, especially if the distance is small. However, we can only take the word for what it appears to mean, not what we think it might do. And so, all in all, the information suggests to us that Rigby basically rolled off the bonnet of the Tigra when it arrived at a halt. Even if he did this over the right side of the bonnet, it’s not clear how he was supposed to arrive at the place that corresponds with the pool of blood? More pertinently, what we perhaps should take from Bailey and Power is the picture of Lee Rigby finding himself on the pavement somewhere immediately in front of the car. Consequently, we should perhaps have expected the scene to look like the one that featured in a News Direct video produced by Next Media Animation (see Fig. 55).

NMA is a Korean company that retells news stories in computer animation, and is partnered by Reuters, and claims on its website that it has worked in the past with the British Daily Telegraph. NMA made two animations about Woolwich; the first one was called “One killer identified in Woolwich attack”, and the second was called “British soldier hacked to death in suspected Islamist attack”. The second was quite different from the first, and as though altered to be closer to real events. The scene in Fig. 55 is from the first film, and shows Rigby in front of the car, although there is a glaring error in that the Tigra does not appear to have struck the stanchion in this film. Apparently, NMA’s animations are ordered by a client and not produced off their own bat, so this animation saw the light of day because someone submitted the information that they wanted to have shown in the film. In other words, the film mirrors the information given to the company by a commissioning party (the identity of which is unknown to the author).

However, the animation is interesting in conjunction with the idea that Rigby fell near to the car for the following reason. On the day, quite a lot of immediate eye witness testimony appeared in the online news outlets, lots of names were mentioned briefly never to be heard of again in terms of the Lee Rigby murder trial. One of these was a 32 year old man who apparently was at home in his flat on John Wilson Street (as it supposedly overlooks the scene, this flat must be on the corner with Wellington Place). Luke Huseyin offered up some very unusual information that didn’t get repeated again by anyone else:

Mr Huseyin said: ‘Two black guys got out of the car dragging a white guy across the road towards the wall. One of the guys had a knife that looked about a foot long and a machete. The other bloke had a gun.

‘They started slashing him up with the knife and hitting him in the stomach with the machete. I don’t think it took long before he was dead.’

Crazed animals… how news of the savage Woolwich attack exploded on Twitter[9]; Chris Greenwood at al; 23 May 2013.

We’ve jumped ahead to the knife attack momentarily only to demonstrate that Huseyin is talking about Adebowale and Adebolajo moving Rigby before they set about him – and they brought him towards the wall. Significantly, this is information that the MailOnline incorporated into their timeline graphic – see Fig. 7; whether their source was Huseyin or another witness is not known. Of course, it’s debatable how much Luke Huseyin could have really seen from the bottom of the road – even though he was elevated. The author thinks that is certainly feasible that Huseyin could be a credible witness from his vantage point, and can’t disqualify him without having looked through the same window from which he viewed events. Arguably, he might have seen much more than the angle downwards would have allowed from Elliston House.

Despite this, having considered all the evidence, the author thinks that it is most likely that Rigby was deposited by the wall. In Chapter 13 we investigate the anatomy of a throw off a pedestrian by a car, and there is possible scenario that explains why Rigby ended up where he did. It also explains the impressions given John Power and Amanda Bailey of there not being much energy in Rigby’s dismount. Even at this stage we can say that the evidence suggests that Rigby was picked up by the Tigra on its right hand side, and this side was clear of the road sign when it crashed – thus meaning that Rigby was deposited cleanly from this side. Arguably, if he had been on the left, he would have become tangled with, or his flight would have somehow been dampened by the road sign stanchion. Furthermore, there is no mention in court of Rigby being moved. Therefore, the best working picture we can create from the court evidence considered is that Rigby was probably lying with his back against the wall, head pointing down the hill, and roughly where the pool of blood would later be photographed.

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[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25298580

[2] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2516910/Chilling-images-capture-moment-Lee-Rigbys-killers-calmly-walked-Argos-buy-set-knives-sharpening-kit–day-soldier-hacked-death.html

See also – http://www.courtnewsuk.co.uk/newsgallery/?page=340&news_id=35177

[3] http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304854804579236403440634712

[4] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woolwich-trial-live-lee-rigby-2875490

[5] http://news.sky.com/story/1176660/woolwich-murder-court-hears-graphic-testimony

[6] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woolwich-trial-live-lee-rigby-2863956

[7] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2515493/Soldier-Lee-Rigby-murdered-mutilated-decapitated-Woolwich-attack-court-hears.html

[8] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2525313/Muslim-converts-guilty-murdering-Private-Lee-Rigby.html

[9] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2329356/Woolwich-shooting-incident-Crazed-animals–news-savage-attack-exploded-Twitter.html