15 – Addressing the Endings versus the Events

<< Previous – Next >>

At this point, having grappled with a few unknowns, we can make some progress, and revisit the talking points raised in Chapter Nine.

1. The damage to the Tigra should be consistent with the speed and the material it impacted, and how it impacted it.

It shouldn’t be assumed that the post which was hit by the Tigra was of the sort that collapses on impact. Thinking logically about it, a post that is designed to crumple is meant to take the damage for the car. What we were presented with in Artillery Place was an undamaged post and a crumpled car – on first impression, then, the stanchion was of the sort that does not readily give way.

Fig. 61 - FMVSS 208 frontal impact - 2012 coda all electric; closing speed 25mph/40kph; 30º angle.
Fig. 61 – FMVSS 208 frontal impact – 2012 coda all electric; closing speed 25mph/40kph; 30º angle.

There are some very good crash test videos available on the internet produced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is an agency of the American Government. These give a very good idea about what happens to a car when it crashes into a flat and uncompromising barrier at 25 mph. In a square-on crash, the impact causes the bonnet to buckle more or less uniformly across the length, and there are superficial breakages at the front, but the damage is very limited. When these are done at 40mph, there is considerably more damage. In the tests where the car is presented at 25mph to a wall at an angle, there is a great deal of damage to the corner of the car that strikes the barrier. This damage looks more like the results of more high speed crashes, but what is happening is that the specifics of the impact are coming into play. Notably, the wheel in that corner is crushed so that it is caused to become dislocated. The bonnet is generally crumpled on the side on which collision occurred, and sections of the skirting at the front of the car become detached. From Fig. 61, the reader will see that there seems to be a small degree of pivoting to the right – so some lifting effect, even though it be so negligible as not to be noticeable, is still working on the car. There is also a surprising amount of push back – which will be remarked upon in the next section in this chapter. Sticking strictly to the damage, the Tigra looks like it has been in one of these angled crashes.  The Tigra was also moving at a comparable speed – 21-25mph, although it is noted that between the two the difference might amount to a slightly different outcome.

In addition, the Tigra also has a feature that suggests that it was involved in a crash specifically with a post – it’s the way car has attained wrapped-around denting, and also told by the fold in the bumper. Moreover, the paintwork has been scraped away in the aligned fold in the bonnet. This catastrophic denting reminds one of the destruction caused on the 2009 Channel 5 test car mentioned in Chapter Ten – which, nevertheless, did seem to be deeper and perhaps is indicative of the greater speed. .

Also in accordance with what we would expect to see is how the windscreen has cracked on the right hand side of the car – this is the side that the footage suggests was leading into the impact with Rigby.  One potential problem with the final state of the Tigra is the fact the absence of any steam or smoke from the engine which we know was breeched because a fluid escaped to run down Artillery Place. It’s quite possible that there wasn’t enough gaseous emission to create a cloud that could be seen on the footage. Furthermore, if the witnesses did not describe the crash – as certainly was the case –  it would be of no surprise that they omitted seeing such obvious signs of damage.

Verdict: It is feasible that the damage to the Tigra is consistent with the speed and the material it impacted, and how it impacted it.

2. The position of the Tigra in its final resting place should be feasible given the factors involved getting it there, and how any impact effected it.

In a scenario when the car hits the stanchion at 21mph, it appears that Adebolajo had 1.14 seconds to straighten the car out after he mounted the kerb. In contrast, if the Tigra had accelerated all the way into the stanchion, time on the pavement would have been 0.88 seconds. We should perhaps say that at the slower speed, it would have been eminently more possible for the Tigra to have been manoeuvred by a driver of standard skill – or rather, perhaps would not have been impossible.

Fig. 62 – maybe the Tigra should be closer to the pole.
Fig. 62 – maybe the Tigra should be closer to the pole.

So much for the getting there – when it comes to accounting for the position of the Tigra after having suffered the effect of the crash, there is a problem. When one does a Google image search of “lamp post crashes”, one is presented with an array of pictures in which a car is either on top of the collapsed lamp post – in the case of one designed to crumple – or it remains wrapped around the lamp post that it collided with. Very few show a car that has become separated again. The benchmark that we have to go on is the reaction of the car in the Channel 5 test case which shows the vehicle being repelled from the post, but this seems to be an anomaly when considering the other information observed. The explanation must lay in the speed of the crash. At 40mph, the Channel 5 test case used up its ability to expend energy when its front was crushed backwards to reach more immovable objects. The energy after that was expended in the consequent backwards throw – the rear of the car got tossed a distance taller than its wheels into the air (I would estimate 4 feet). Imagine the power needed to lift a car 4 feet in the air, and to fling it backwards an even greater distance.

At 21mph, the Tigra didn’t create this much energy on its approach. So, we might expect the crumpling of the front of the car to be sufficient to expend much of the energy, which would have meant a less violent follow through. In fact, we might have expected the Tigra to have remained closely wrapped around the post – which is what the author discovered tended to be the general case when search for other examples. In addition, the difference between an NHTSA crash test mentioned above that seemed to cause pivoting at a low speed, and the case we are scrutinising is that in the test the car hit an angled flat plate that offered no movement beyond it for the crashing vehicle like a lamp post would. Arguably, the car couldn’t therefore crumple in its frontage as effectively, and energy was expended by the car being displaced to the right.

Verdict: the arrival of the Tigra as the road sign stanchion is feasible. However, there is a problem with the final position of the Tigra given the speed that has been calculated for it at this stage, and what we might expect it to do on collision with a lamp post. While there is no evidence that disproves the fact that a Tigra drove onto the pavement towards the road sign stanchion in a straightened-up state, there is a possibility that there is evidence to disprove the idea that that Tigra crashed. This might seem a rather odd statement, but it should become clearer later as the rest of this exercise, as we proceed through it, creates a broader scope of possibilities that, by logic, must be considered. At this stage, there must be a verdict that there is inconclusive evidence to be satisfied that the Tigra’s finishing position relates to the events concerning it.

3. The final position of Lee Rigby and his possessions should be consistent with how he was flung from the car as it impacted him.

In Chapter Thirteen we saw how it might have been possible that Rigby could have been “carried” to his final position – a possibility that was really only conditional on speed. We’ve found since that the speed was such that the manoeuvre to straighten up the Tigra was credible – if Adebolajo was standard enough to bring it about, of course. In other words, Rigby’s final position does not disprove that he had been involved in a crash in the way we are being asked to believe it happened.

However, here is an enormous anomaly that presents a problem. Lee Rigby’s rucksack ended in a place that was impossible for it to have landed. Although there was no mention of it in the witness testimony, someone must have moved Rigby’s bag.

Verdict: While we can say that Rigby’s final position concurs with the events leading up to it, the issue of his rucksack is problematic and suggests people in the scene who the witnesses, for some reason, would not report in their testimony. Why this would be the case, and who it could be cannot be answered at this stage.

4. The injuries to Lee Rigby caused by the strike should be consistent with the speed of the car, and the way it struck him.

In Chapter Eighteen there is a lengthy extract from the MailOnline regarding the injuries sustained by Lee Rigby. The pertinent part is the descriptions of fractures to the left side of the back, “consistent with a single high-energy blunt force impact which could have been the impact with the car”.

The witness testimony indicates the state Rigby was in; the following is reportage of and interchange between prosecutor Whittam and Gary Perkins.

Mr Whittam QC said Mr Perkins had described the actions like a “butcher attacking a joint of meat”.

“That’s correct,” Mr Perkins said.

The body was motionless and silent throughout, he added.

Woolwich Murder: Court hears graphic testimony[1]; staff writer; 02 December 2013

In addition, Amanda Bailey said this:

I could see that his eyes were still open but they looked frozen. He wasn’t moving or making any noise. I thought that he was dead or in shock. I couldn’t see any visible injuries on him.[2]

As a matter of fact, Rigby was probably neither in death or in shock, but alive and unable to respond – perhaps paralyzed or unconscious. The witness testimony supports this, and the coroner’s report, with its mention of back injury suggests we think about paralysis.

The graphic in Fig 63 is from the DfT’s 2010 report Road Safety Web Publication No. 16; Relationship between Speed and Risk of Fatal Injury: Pedestrians and Car Occupants[3]. In our preferred model the Tigra starts to decelerate into Rigby – hitting him at 24mph. This would represent a 70% chance of serious injury. (If the car had accelerated to 27mph, this would have created an 80% chance of serious injury).

Fig. 63 – the chance of a serious injury at 24mph are 70%, climbing to 80% for 27mph.
Fig. 63 – the chance of a serious injury at 24mph are 70%, climbing to 80% for 27mph.

This is all well and good, and appears to be feasible. Unfortunately for the official narrative, the actual injuries to Rigby are unusual for the nature of his collision [source: Break a leg: Analyzing vehicle-pedestrian collisions  by John C. Gardiner, PhD, PE et al; Advocate Journal of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA), November 2011 [4]].

As it happens, the most common cause of death from a pedestrian-vehicle collision is a head injury. In the evidence at the Rigby murder trial, there is no mention of such a thing even though the damage to the Tigra suggests Rigby did what most people do in the same situation – hit some part of hood and/or windscreen with their head. Even more unlikely is how there is mention of injury to the pelvis, hips and legs – these are the places where there is most frequent damage, whether there be a death or no. Moreover, Amanda Bailey’s testimony overtly mentioned no sign of outward injury – broken bones sometimes stick out, or at least present themselves through the way limbs become dislocated. Apparently, Lee Rigby’s injuries are more in keeping with an impact with a larger vehicle. Breakages below the waist are due to the first point of impact being low on the body.

In addition to Rigby having the wrong sort of injuries, there is the issue of how he seems to have suffered the worst of them on his left hand side. Rigby was walking in north-westerly direction (roughly) when he was crossing Artillery Place. The Tigra was coming from relatively due west. That means that Rigby was hit first on the right hand side of his body. This side was also the one over which he had slung his back pack, and whether there could have been any mitigating effects from this arrangement is just not understood properly. Arguably his bag should have hit the bonnet before his upper body and may have afforded some protection. Then again, if Rigby suffered the wrong kind of injury for a man hit by a car at 24-27mph, then this potential padding would have made no difference.

Verdict: while it is likely that Lee Rigby sustained serious injury from the impact with the Tigra, there is a case to make that he exhibited the wrong sort of injuries both for the type of, and the specific crash he was involved in.

5. The injuries to the two Michaels should be consistent with the crash.

The chart in Fig. 64 shows information from the same DfT report cited above. It shows the risk of injury and death from a crash between two cars that hit each other head on.  This is not what happened to the Tigra of course, but this chart enables one to form a good idea of what risk Adebowale and Adebolajo ran by crashing their vehicle headlong into street furniture.  For while it is easier to imagine that a head-on crash into another vehicle will lead more certainly to deaths than crashing into a post – the former, especially at lower speeds, suggests itself to be an infinitely more dangerous thing to do for the following reason: cars have built in energy absorption capability – steel poles set in concrete do not necessarily have anything of the same sort. Of course, after a certain speed this is not going to help, and the chart shows a steady average rise in the chance of fatalities until about 24mph (it actually shows the change in speed, rather than speed at the crash), after which the gradient is consistently steep. When we think of crashes, we probably think of crushing, and penetration of objects into soft-flesh, rather than all the inevitable throwing that happens; terrible throwing that pushes the frail human body to its limits. Serious injury at lower speeds are often caused by the energetic convulsions that a body is forced into making as it comes to a dead halt. Backs, spinal cords are particularly at risk, meaning that the driver of a car in a low speed crash might find himself not being able to jump out very ably after the accident – he certainly might not be as agile and nimble as both Adebolajo and Adebowale were.

Fig. 64 – the chance of a serious injury at 21mph are 40%, climbing to 60% for 25mph – this is for drivers (passengers) in full frontal collisions with other cars.
Fig. 64 – the chance of a serious injury at 21mph are 40%, climbing to 60% for 25mph – this is for drivers (passengers) in full frontal collisions with other cars.

Our model sees the Tigra hit the stanchion at 21 or 25mph. If this had been a head on collision with a car, then both Adebolajo and Adebowale would have had between a 40 and 60 percent chance of being seriously injured. There would have been between a 10 and 20 percent chance for either of them to have been killed. There would have been no chance that either of them would have escaped without any injury whatsoever. Notice, that airbags in the Tigra do not appeared to have been deployed (see Fig. 62), so there was no mitigation from that quarter from the effects of the accident.

Verdict: the two Michaels got out of the car without having suffered any setback whatsoever; it is highly unlikely that the two Michael’s state of health after disembarking from the Tigra reflected the fact that they had been in a head on collision with a post.

6. Adebolajo’s ability as a driver should be above the task of manoeuvring the vehicle in the way its ending position suggests it had to be manoeuvred.

Our findings suggest that the Tigra could have been travelling in the low 20s (mph) across the pavement. Given that people make 20 mph corners every day without losing control of their cars, it is quite feasible that Adebolajo, if he was a standard driver, could have controlled the Tigra to make the required manoeuvre. Unfortunately, there is no information about how Adebolajo could drive, or whether he needed aids to assist him. We do know that he was a car owner, and therefore was not a complete novice – but that’s all.

Findings in other sections have introduced a new factor so that the question really becomes not whether Adebolajo was capable of driving the vehicle, but whether or not he actually occupied it at the time.

Verdict: if Adebolajo was a standard driver, he should have been able to perform the manoeuvre.

7. There should be evidence that links the two Michaels with possession of the vehicle before the accident.

Fig. 65 – apparently, the same vehicle involved in the attack in Artillery Place in the preceding.
Fig. 65 – apparently, the same vehicle involved in the attack in Artillery Place in the preceding.

It turns out that Adebolajo owned a completely different car: a “battered” orange Peugeot 106. The author has no information regarding how Adebolajo thereafter came to be in possession of another car than that which he owned. However, the Daily Mirror produced a story by which readers could assume that he had been in the market for buying a new car. Just to throw people off the scent, the focus of the tale was a radicalising Islamic cassette tape recording (in the era of data discs, please note). The following is an extract:

The Daily Mirror discovered the 12-year-old Peugeot parked near… [Adebolajo’s] sister Blessing’s home in Romford, East London, with the Islamic tape still inside.

Police were informed of the car’s existence and it was taken away to be searched.

The neighbour, who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals, said: “At first he wanted £420 for it but by the end he was desperate and said I could have it for £125.”

His last text message to the neighbour was sent at 9.39am on April 25. The neighbour, who did not buy the car, said: “He was very down in the dumps recently. I saw him pacing up and down the street.

“He wasn’t going anywhere in particular. He was just walking back and forward. He seemed agitated, as if he had something playing on his mind.

“When I saw him on the news I was absolutely shocked. I recognised his blue car first, and then saw the video of him. I recognised his voice and knew it was him. I couldn’t believe it.”

Woolwich attack: Suspect Michael Adebolajo listened to chilling tape to prepare for death[5]; Andrew Gregory; 25 May 2013.

This is not a good start if we are trying to ascertain an association between Adebolajo and a Tigra ahead of the incident. The author has no information whatsoever about Adebolajo’s ownership of the car that he was supposed to be driving on 22nd May 2013, but it could be argued that he didn’t have to own it to carry out the attack in it. So the issue of how Adebolajo was in possession of the Tigra is something that will be discussed further in the next chapter.

Fig. 66 – another picture supposedly showing the Tigra in the area ahead of the attack.
Fig. 66 – another picture supposedly showing the Tigra in the area ahead of the attack.

The jury were shown a number of images of the Tigra before the incident (see Fig. 66). These images showed it in the vicinity of Woolwich within the preceding hours of it being involved in the collision with Rigby. We can say that these images were obviously intended to establish the idea that the two Michaels were on the prowl and in the vicinity within the general time period.

Unfortunately, even if we allowed that any time stamps on the images hadn’t been doctored, and that it was the same car as the one involved in the attack, there is no way that these images could establish that Adebolajo and Adebowale were in the vehicle at all. The closest the images get to placing Adebowale in the Tigra is in one particular one where the Tigra is sitting on a Tesco (apparently) garage fore-court. A silhouetted figure is operating a fuel pump at the rear of the car. Perhaps a beanie hat and the shape of a folded-down hood can be seen, but maybe these features are suggesting themselves because one has been told the figure is supposed to Adebolajo.

Fig. 67 – the Tigra being filled up by shadowy figure at petrol station forecourt.
Fig. 67 – the Tigra being filled up by shadowy figure at petrol station forecourt.

The bad quality of this image also means that the number plate of the car cannot be discerned with ease, if at all – in fact, the centre of the plate looks like it has some blurring in it. This is incredibly strange. The still is presumably from CCTV footage – i.e. moving images. This means that there should be a frame that the Metropolitan Police could present as evidence that isn’t affected by a blur. In this way, the Tigra would indisputably be identified – in addition it could be argued that the driver looks too much like Adebolajo not to be him. It would place Adebolajo, at least with a high degree of certainty, with the Tigra before the incident. However, this has not been done. It begs the question, is there a clear frame of the plate at all? One assumes there should be. Petrol stations often have trouble with people taking the fuel, and then driving away without paying. Having CCTV on the premises which can capture licence plates is supposed to offer petrol stations a facility to bring about prosecutions or pursue payment. These things cannot be done if the camera is not good enough to for the purposes of identifying the owner of the car through the number plate.

Verdict: there is no evidence to place Adebolajo and Adebowale in the Tigra during the hours preceding the attack. Images of the car in the area only prove that the car was in the area. Secondly, there is no evidence that proves beyond doubt that the car at the petrol pump is the same one involved in the incident, and therefore that any person associated with it – namely the shadowy figure that is assumed to be Adebolajo drove a Tigra at Lee Rigby.

8. There should be evidence that links the two Michaels with possession of the car at the time of the incident – i.e. proof that they got out of the vehicle in its crashed state.

Fig. 68 – a close up of the license plate.
Fig. 68 – a close up of the license plate as featured in Fig. 67.

As the two Michaels appear to have exited the Tigra in ship-shape fitness, the only evidence (other than Adebolajo’s admission) we have of him and Adebowale being in the car when it hit Lee Rigby and then went on to strike a road sign is the witness testimony of three people. These statements are as follows:

“Four or five seconds later [after Adebolajo attacked Rigby] the passenger got out of the passenger seat”.

John Power

“It seemed a long time passed before the driver got out of the car”.

Amanda Bailey

“Immediately two black men, one with a chopper knife in his hand, came out of the car”.

Saraj Miah

The witnesses then go on to tell of how these same men start to attack Rigby. This links the men inside the Tigra with the people who carried out the knife attack as being the same people.

The reader will probably have noticed immediately that there appears to be contradictions in these accounts in terms of how long it took for the two Michaels to exit the vehicle. We should overlook this for now and put it down to subjective responses. The most useful account is the one from Power who is suddenly able to put numbers to his estimates; a pity he couldn’t previously give something in miles-per-hour when he was describing the Tigra’s acceleration.

Notice how Amanda Bailey concentrates on Michael Adebolajo while John Power focuses on Michael Adebowale. Only Saraj Miah talks about both of the men. We will discover that this is to do with the amount of time the witnesses were around to see developments – Bailey spends the least time, Powers spends the next longest, and Miah is there for the longest time. It is quite helpful in measuring the duration of the attack.

Verdict: we must take the witnesses’ word for what they say they saw; therefore it appears as if the two Michaels got out of the car after it had come to a halt. This puts them in possession of the vehicle after the initial collisions.

<< Previous – Next >>

[1] http://www.juicefm.com/news/local/woolwich-murder-court-hears-graphic-testimony/

[2] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/lee-rigby-trial-soldiers-widow-2876192

[3] http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20121105134522/http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/pgr-roadsafety-research-rsrr-theme5-researchreport16-pdf/rswp116.pdf

[4] http://www.meaforensic.com/vehicle-pedestrian-collisions-accident-reconstruction-expert-witness-

[5] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woolwich-attack-suspect-michael-adebolajo-1910069