24 – Regarding the Reaction of Passing Traffic

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8. The presence of the white lorry and Number 53 bus, and any other traffic stopping unusually during the course of the assault, should be explainable as a consequence of the attack.

Is it fair to say that although our society is no longer one of good Samaritans, it is one of rubber neckers? This means to say that although people will not get involved to help out if they come across someone in distress, they will engage enough to satisfy a morbid curiosity. Maybe this is why we see so many cars drive past the stricken Tigra in the Shop Footage with no one – not one – stopping and its driver or passenger going off screen to have a go at the two Michaels – or even flag others down to organise a “posse”. However, if the initial statement of this paragraph is true, we should then have seen cars slowing, and perhaps a bit of confusion, as people took the opportunity to get a good look at real life murder and mayhem.

Apart from the vehicles belonging to Hucks, Power, Bailey, Heneghan, Nimmo and Seymour, 24 cars and vans, 3 buses, and 1 bike also went past the scene of the crash in the Shop Footage. Only one of these stopped in a way that seemed to be as a reaction to what was going on – this was the silver saloon car that pulled up behind the red car of Hucks’. Noticeably, this car did not react at the same time that Hucks and Saraj Miah did when the gun was apparently produced. Later on a black hatchback stopped adjacent to the shop on Artillery Place. It didn’t need to stop, but it’s doubtful the driver could have been reacting to the attack because it was already slowing when it came into the scope of the camera. After the Nimmos had caused an obstruction by essentially double parking with this black hatchback, the last cars that we see by necessity slowed down – however, none stop. When the film stops, there are 3 more cars about to drive past the scene from both directions. They don’t show any signs that they have any other intention other than travelling through the scene.

Just to recap, then, up to 30 vehicles, the drivers of which are not named, drove through the scene without reacting to it. Of all the vehicles that definitely reacted to the scene, only one was not named. Indeed, one of the named drivers, Thomas Seymour, certainly looked as if he hadn’t seen anything. If he hadn’t been identified by the trial, he would have been included in the list of anonymous drivers who didn’t react. With this all in mind, we are told that on the pavement where all these vehicles were passing by, there was an attack going on so brutal that its witnesses said that it looked as if the assailants were trying to lop out organs. The question that arises is this: how can there be such a great chasm in the spectrum of reaction. Very few people react to this scene, but they tell of a great horror. Why then do so many, the vast majority, continue past as though there is not anything of great consequence happening?

We can’t answer this question, at this stage, by stating that all the witness testimony is extremely unreliable. The conclusion should be that most of the passersby were too obtuse to notice the attack – because I am sure that we would have seen some reaction in them if they had – or there was nothing going on to merit an intervention.

The most significant reaction to the attack by passing vehicles was those had by the drivers of the Number 53 bus and the white lorry that then remained on the scene all the way through the incident thereafter. The fact that these vehicles set the stage for the next phase cannot be unlinked from the other fact that the way they came to a halt was nothing short of extraordinary. The lorry driver disappeared completely – apparently. There was no reason for the bus driver to have stopped – that he did stop endangered his passengers. We are trying to decipher is whether or not this stage-setting was extraordinary because of a lack of organic accident – did the events warrant the outcome of a Number 53 bus essentially blocking traffic coming into Artillery Place, and a white lorry blocking traffic coming out of Rectory Place and coming down Artillery Place – and also blocking the Victoria Tavern CCTV camera. This outcome certainly was very convenient for what was about to play out. To work out the true nature of the event we have to figure out if there is a rational explanation for the presence of these two large vehicles. Can their presence be explained as a consequence of the attack?

Fig. 106 – Tom Parmenter’s tweet lacks detail; how does he know this information?
Fig. 106 – Tom Parmenter’s tweet lacks detail; how does he know this information?

First of all, we should find great significance in the way that Parmenter, the Sky News reporters, mentions the arrival of the Number 53 bus and the white lorry outside of any context.

Red London bus and a white lorry pulled up yards from Lee Rigby’s body which had been dragged into middle of the road.

11.07am[1]; 03 December 2013

The fact that this information is not framed by its source – which is what we perhaps should expect – is quite interesting. There is no reporting that says there is video footage that was shown to the court which showed these vehicles coming to a halt.

Consider the following reportage:

The jury were shown CCTV footage of the killers dragging the body of Lee Rigby into the middle of the road, causing traffic to stop.

Drivers can be seen manoeuvring their cars to drive away and a man wheels a bicycle right past the body.

Council CCTV footage also shows the men wandering around on the pavement holding bloodstained knives.

Several brave members of the public, including grandmother Tina Nimmo, approach the men.

Amanda Donnelly Martin then runs up to the body of Lee Rigby and cradles him in her arms.

Recap: Lee Rigby trial updates as police officer tells court of moment she thought she would be killed[2]; Paul Cockerton; 03 December 2013.

Putting aside the absolute implausibility of the activity of the cyclist, this seems to be suggesting that all the events described can be witnessed in footage – and we get told which footage has captured these images. In particular, traffic is caused to stop – however, the question of which traffic is not addressed. Here would be a good opportunity to stipulate the bus and the lorry – but this information is not offered. Consider also how this reporting suggests that it is the Council CCTV that captures Lee Rigby being dumped in the road – in stark contrast to other reporting that suggests that it was the Victoria Tavern CCTV.

Fig. 107 – Ingrid Loyau Kennett’s arm is visible on the right hand side, coming from out of shot, and overlapping Rigby’s body.
Fig. 107 – Ingrid Loyau Kennett’s arm is visible on the right hand side, coming from out of shot, and overlapping Rigby’s body.

Furthermore, the Bus Footage shows Amanda and Gemini Donnelly arriving at the scene, speaking to Adebolajo and Adebowale, and then shows Amanda sitting down by Rigby’s body. This footage also shows the white lorry already in place, but more importantly it shows that the bus is already in place. If we allow, in the above reporting, that the traffic that was caused to stop included his bus, then there is a good chance that the people on the bus saw Rigby being put in the road. However, the people talking on the bus cannot make a clear connection between all the characters on the scene, the crashed car, and the body. They wonder if the body has been ‘left’ on the road, which suggests they think that it was run over on the road. So, it is clear that the bus passengers had no idea what had happened. They did not turn up while the attack was ongoing. They arrived after the body had been dumped, and around about the same time as the Donnellys turn up. This is telling us that the bus did not stop because it came across Adebolajo and Adebowale in the act of dumping him in the road. In fact, we already knew all this from Ingrid Loyau-Kennett’s story.

As the bus turned a corner, out of her window on the right-hand side of the lower deck she saw a body lying in the middle of the road and, a few feet away, a car smashed into a lamp post on the pavement. Her “gut instinct” moved her to jump off the bus to offer first-aid assistance for what she believed to be a road traffic accident.

[After she had gone to the body] Around her, she estimates that 60 to 70 people had gathered at a distance, all watching, some filming with their phones, none offering to help. Meanwhile, the woman sitting by Drummer Rigby’s side was stroking his back and, it was later reported, praying for him.

Woolwich attack witness Ingrid Loyau-Kennett: ‘I feel like a fraud[3]; Leo Hickman; 27 May 2013.

In the Bus Footage, just before it ends, we do see a bare arm sweeping into shot near Amanda Bailey as she crouches over Lee Rigby (see Fig. 107). This is 29 seconds into the film, and it must be Ingrid Loyau-Kennett approaching to try and take a pulse, which is what she claimed she did in the very first instance. The passage of time that we can witness on the Bus Footage before this arm appears feels natural and if we assume that the bus had just pulled up, then it would have given enough scope for Ingrid to make a decision, talk to other passengers, and then make her way to the driver, speak to him, and leave the bus. This footage, then, starts when the bus comes to a halt.

So now let’s re-examine the specific witness accounts that are available to us about when this bus came to a halt; the following is concerned with Cheralee Armstrong’s version:

Armstrong said she was shouting: “They’re stabbing him. They’re killing him” when a bus pulled up and 40 to 50 passengers got off to see what had happened, the jury was told.

She described how the two accused dragged the body “like a rubbish bag” and tossed it into the road. “Lots of people from the bus were filming on their phones,” she added.

By this point, Adebowale is said to have walked away from the body, she said; he “looked mad like he’d escaped from a mental hospital”, the jury heard.

Lee Rigby witness describes the look of ‘pure evil’ on killers’ faces[4]; Josh Halliday et al; 02 December 2013.

According to Armstrong – presumably via Whittam please notice – she was present when bus arrived (the Number 53 presumably) and came to a stop, and 40 to 50 passengers got off, and she seemed to draw their attention to murder that was still going on. So, the big trouble with this report is that it has transformed an already inaccurate witness testimony into something that starts to look completely bogus. This is the problem with Armstrong’s testimony with regards the bus that was briefly mentioned in the previous chapter.

Tina Nimmo, who was at least potentially in the correct place to interact with the Number 53 bus, also described it turning up. Here is reportage dealing with that testimony:

Ms Nimmo said she started shouting at the two men to stop.

“They were just holding their weapons up. I wanted them to stop.

“Then this whole bus load of people wanted to come and have a look and it just made it more difficult to control.”

She said she shouted “hang back, he’s got a gun” but people continued to approach the scene.

Recap: Lee Rigby trial updates as police officer tells court of moment she thought she would be killed[5]; Paul Cockerton; 03 December 2013.

Fig. 108 – the lorry is visible in the Bus Footage – the bus has just arrived, meaning the lorry was there before.
Fig. 108 – the lorry is visible in the Bus Footage – the bus has just arrived, meaning the lorry was there before.

Once again, the general spirit of the testimony says that the attack was ongoing when the bus turned up. The footage suggests that this just isn’t the case. And the footage suggests that people didn’t start spilling out of the bus as seems to be insistently claimed. And one gets the feeling with Armstrong, and Tina and Michelle Nimmo’s testimony that it doesn’t describe anything specific. In the last chapter the idea was raised that witnesses were not reporting a central fact, and it feels as if these particular witnesses are talking about their overall subjective experience. Although the testimony is there to help us rationalise the circumstances of a bus stopping, it can’t tell us anything reliable about how the bus came to be there.

As for the truck, thanks to the Bus Footage, we know that it was present before the arrival of the bus (see Fig. 108). On the day, the only way it was accounted for was in the stories delivered in interviews by, or attributed to passer-by Graham Wilders. Graham and his wife Julia featured a lot in the media in the hours immediately after the attack giving eye-witness accounts and filling out some of the horrific detail for the consumption of TV and radio audiences. The following is a version of his account that appeared in print the next day. It sounds like his verbal reckoning except that in this textual version his account is accomplished and complete – by which is meant that when Graham Wilders was telling his story to the TV or the radio, he had a knack of jumping around in his story so that one couldn’t tell in the end who was doing what.

Mr Wilders, 50, said: ‘When we walked back down to see what was happening, one of the black men pulled a handgun out from behind him.

‘There was a lorry driver and it looked like he was waving it at the lorry driver. He got down out of his cab and legged it. It was absolutely terrifying.

‘I saw a load of kids come out of school gates and I just yelled at them to get back. I ran up to the school shouting there’s a gunman and to get everybody inside.

‘The headmaster came out and they closed the school gates and kept everyone in. That was when I heard four shots.’

Crazed animals… how news of the savage Woolwich attack exploded on Twitter[6]; Chris Greenwood et al; 23 May 2013

The bit about the school children is not pertinent as such in terms of the account of the lorry driver, but it will become apparent in a moment why it hasn’t been clipped out at this stage.

Wilders also spoke to a television interviewer on the day, apparently live on the BBC as they showed overhead pictures of the scene – and this is the transcript[7] of part of what he said:

Cos as I drove round the corner there was two people leaning over and I thought they were trying to resuscitate him – there was a bloke against the wall and next minute I’ve gone down the road and parked in my garage which I only live down the road from there, and then another blokes come along and told me that they’re actually stabbing him… and then next minute there was a bloke come along in a… little silver car and he got out and shouted out to everyone “someone phone the police”, so he’s phoned the police. So next minute what happened is he actually pulled an handgun out…  I see the silver car shoot off… and I told me and my missus to get back down cos we was gonna go up and have a look see what was happening… and then like next minute as I was standing outside my back gate a load of school kids come up and I shouted out to the teachers who was with em “get them kids in the school now cos there’s a bloke up there with an handgun”… I was more concerned about the kids cos I don’t know what he was gonna do with the handgun cos as soon as he pulled that out I panicked.

Then there was this interview done face to face on Charles Grinling Walk outside the property that stands against an alleyway through to a street where the houses that face on to it have their rears on Rectory Place.

I see two geezers laying over another geezer and I thought they were trying to resuscitate them… so like we parked the car in the garage and we started walking up and as we started walking up there was a lorry there already parked there and a little car come along and he got out and he said call 999 or something like that and next minute he’s pulled the gun out from behind the back of him, black hand gun which takes 12 to 15 rounds, and he’s just shot off. And then I walked back ‘cos I see the hand gun… so as I come back a little – a bunch of school kids come up and I shouted out to them “get them in the school there’s someone up there with a handgun at the end of the road” so they all got back in and we just come back in then.

There is a different account about the lorry in the second article than there is in the first. Apparently, it was already parked when Wilders arrived, and it wasn’t the lorry driver who shot off, but a driver in a car who Wilders had encountered near the scene – which we think could be James Heneghan. This encounter probably happened after 13:26:40 – Shop Footage time – when Heneghan had turned up Rectory Place. With the knife attack starting at 13:26:10 – Shop Footage time – and Wilder’s encountering the attack at some point after this, Wilders would have had feasible amount of time to park up only a little way away, and start coming down the road to meet Heneghan. However, the crucial information is this: we know from the Shop Footage that the white lorry is not present at this time.

People who researched the Lee Rigby event thought it very strange that not much was known about this lorry driver who ran away and never came back. At the trial he was revealed as being a man named Samuel Williams.

Witness Samuel Williams was coming back from his last job on the way back to the depot.

He said in a statement he first thought one of the attackers was trying to resuscitate Lee Rigby.

“When I saw the black man pull the gun I said to my wife ‘get back, he’s got a gun.’ At that point i basically s**t myself.

“The black man with the gun kept waving it around in the air.

“Then I saw two female teachers and they were leading a group of schoolchildren aged 8 or 9.

“I said to the teachers, “get the kids into the school because there’s a bloke up there with a handgun.”

Recap: Lee Rigby trial updates as police officer tells court of moment she thought she would be killed[8]; Paul Cockerton; 03 December 2013.

The first extraordinary thing about this is the presence of Williams’ wife in the lorry – presumably also on her way back to the depot? It could be true, but it is certainly very strange. But to say that Samuel Williams’ testimony is similar to Wilders’ experience is an understatement. In fact, in its content it is identical. We could say that Wilders’ account was almost on behalf of the absent lorry driver. In other words, it’s almost as though Graham Wilders told the lorry driver’s story as if he was that disappearing enigma – and told it from the third person perspective about himself. There is no other reference to Williams’ testimony that the author can find – and it is identical to Graham Wilders’ story. Either this court reporting got extremely mixed up, or a witness statement was entered into the record that could not realistically have been made by the witness, and something else is going on. Of course, Graham Wilder’s own testimony at court (and there is reportage of that existing) was not conveyed to the public in any remote detail at all.

Perhaps even more incredible is the very fact that Wilders’ account of how the lorry came to be parked in the exit of Rectory Place is the only one available to us. No one else even mentions the lorry in their testimony. But perhaps what takes the absolute biscuit regarding the tale of the white lorry is how, suspiciously, by the time of the trial, the activity of Samuel Williams had taken on meaning that contradicted Wilders’ account.

Mr Whittam explained how lorry driver Samuel Williams used his white Volvo to block the sight of Lee Rigby’s body from members of the public.

Lee Rigby murder trial recap: Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale accused of Woolwich soldier murder[9]; Paul Cockerton; 29 November 2013.

This activity doesn’t sound like that of a man in a panic. So the entire fabric of reality around the driver of the lorry is only very sketchily patched together. Graham Wilders contradicts himself between accounts and it seems that the Daily Mail might even have invented his account of what happened to the lorry driver. Why would they do this, if they did it? Could it be that Samuel Williams does not exist? As his testimony seems to be lifted entirely from the experiences of Graham Wilders – or an unnamed journalist – it is very possible that he doesn’t. All indicators point to the possibility of the lorry being placed in its location in a non-organic way.

Verdict: The arrival of the white lorry is an unknown factor. The one witness who mentioned it contradicted himself about it. It did not appear in the video when it should have appeared. In short, its appearance on the scene cannot be explained. We cannot rule out, therefore, that the lorry was therefore arranged to be there. There is not one straight story about the arrival of the bus. No one can explain, without casting doubt on the veracity of their stories, the arrival of the bus in an organic way.

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[1] https://twitter.com/TomSkyNews/status/407828508942278656

[2] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woolwich-trial-live-lee-rigby-2878015

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2013/may/27/woolwich-witness-ingrid-loyau-kennett

[4] http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/02/lee-rigby-pure-evil-killers-faces

[5] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woolwich-trial-live-lee-rigby-2878015

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

[7] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22631995

[8] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woolwich-trial-live-lee-rigby-2878015

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