11 – Calculating Speed: Defining the Landmarks

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The crucial element in the formula between events and endings in terms of the Tigra hitting Lee Rigby, and then its final crash into the road sign stanchion, is the speed of the car. Officially, the Tigra hit Lee Rigby travelling at 30-40mph. As mentioned in a previous chapter, it is not known where this figure comes from – even Adebolajo, who would have had access to the data readouts, didn’t seem as if he could be a very reliable source. In a filmed police interview shown to the court on Day 5 of the trial, Adebolajo suggested that he wasn’t sure what he had made the Tigra do while he was driving it:

When he crossed the road in front of me so casually it was almost as if I was not in control of myself. I accelerated, I hit him and I think I also crashed into a sign post.

Recap: Lee Rigby murder trial updates as Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale appear in court[1]; Andy Rudd; 5 December 2013

Fig. 56 – the landmarks for timings.
Fig. 56 – the landmarks for timings.

This is a very strange thing to say, and it stimulates suspicions of altered states of consciousness. The best we can say at this stage is that if Adebolajo didn’t really know what he was doing, then it would be safe to assume that the speed data didn’t come from him.

It may be possible to gauge the speed of the Tigra in a very accurate way by digitally analysing the footage, but we can presume that this wasn’t done or else some more accurate figure would have been generated. However, in our role of defence-team-that-never-was, we can look at the footage to establish a realistic speed for this car. Our result won’t be computer precise because the author doesn’t have access to that analytical equipment, but we can get a good enough rough idea. Any moving object can be timed between two objects. If the distance between the two objects is known, then speed can be calculated. We can find landmarks within the crime scene, and we can both construct the distance between them using knowledge through experience (like understanding how long a car’s length is), and especially through taking measurements on Google Map – the two should produce coinciding results. Then we can time the Tigra moving through the space between them, and be able to produce good estimates for the speed.

First thing to do is to identify landmarks in the stretch of the road from the junction of Wellington Street with Artillery Place to the point of impact with the Artillery Place road sign. If the reader refers to the diagram in Fig. 56; they are illustrated there with the respective labels attributed to them in the following list:

A. The western end edge of the island in Wellington Place.

B. The western end edge of the island in Artillery Place.

These two points represent the extent of the crossing as best we can measure it from the footage. Because the Tigra seemed to cross the junction at a relatively uniform speed (compared to its later acceleration), we use the average speed at across A and B to calculate initial speed at A, and this will be the base number for all the other speed calculations.

C. Roughly where the Tigra started to turn to cross the reservation; this coincides with a road marking.

D. The point at which the Tigra is positioned at the end of that point in the CCTV footage where the car was about to strike Rigby. The BBC graphic in Fig.49 claims a slightly different position for this moment; ours is a more accurate estimation. Incidentally, the media have been calling the moment associated with this location the one where Lee Rigby is about to be hit. In fact, there is foreshortening in the image which makes the Tigra look hard on Rigby’s heels. In fact, it is still a long way behind Rigby.

E. This is where we extrapolate the actual striking of Lee Rigby took place.

F. This is where the Tigra crossed the kerb. The exact location is not known, for our purposes we are going to treat F as the theoretical point in the trajectory which coincides with the lamp post. In reality, the car could not go through the lamp post, but in this way, we go down the middle in the question regarding which side of the lamp post the Tigra mounted the kerb. It was most likely the right hand side, but we just cannot be sure.

G. This is where the Tigra impacted the road sign stanchion.

Luckily, the Tigra is not the only car that travels through this laboratory; the proceeding cars in the footage give us a control case to compare and contrast with. One of these cars in particular enables us to see what a regular case would look like. We can judge our rough findings on what we might expect normal driving through the scene to look like. If these results are acceptable, it means we are using roughly the right numbers in terms of constant data values, and we can be sure that we are attributing the right behaviour to the Tigra.

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[1] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/recap-lee-rigby-murder-trial-2891933