The Donnellys, daughter Gemini and her mother Amanda, had been driving to a nearby Tescos down Artillery Place – we should assume – when they saw the attack and stopped their car. It’s not entirely clear where the Donnellys parked up, but we’ll get to that in a moment. For some reason neither of these women took part in the trial, but a note, which had apparently been handed to Amanda Donnelly appeared to become a piece of evidence – and when it did this came as a big surprise to most Rigby-watchers because there had not been any mention of this interaction in an extensive interview conducted by the Donnellys to the Sunday People newspaper (although there is a moment in the Mirror Footage that does look like Adebolajo handing something to Amanda Donnelly.
The Donnellys’ arrival at scene is supposed to have been captured by footage, and this was shown to the court – although we don’t know which footage is meant, and we’ve already touched on a problem involved in how the white lorry would block this event from one perspective. Luckily someone quietly released the Bus Footage on to YouTube, and we were able to see what happened at that momentous moment of history. Running onto the stage set, they are met by Adebolajo and Adebowale both – and both are conveniently placed to greet them. There is a discussion – well, Adebolajo’s chin does the most wagging (it is not clear if had set off on a rendition of his “so what if we want to live by the Shariah in Muslim lands” speech – which the footage suggests he did more than once during the day, indicating that his famous rant was in fact scripted) – and then Amanda runs to the body. Gemini walks to join her in a more guarded fashion. The police released a still from the council CCTV that produced the Council Footage that time stamped this moment as having happened at 14:24:24. This is apparently between 4 and 5 minutes after the Tigra had driven into Rigby.
It’s not clear if the Bus Footage was presented at court – the jury would have got to see a passerby walk through Rigby’s blood and gore if it had of. As for a personal testimony from the Donelleys regarding the events of the day, because they didn’t appear as trial witnesses, we have only one source from which to know their account. This was the aforementioned Sunday People interview (it was also featured in the Daily Mirror), and the following is a pertinent extract:
Amanda, 44, and Gemini, 20, were driving to do their weekly shopping at Tesco shortly after lunchtime that day when they came upon the harrowing sight.
Volunteer Amanda, who is currently looking for work, said: “We were just driving past the Army barracks and Gemini screamed out, ‘Mum!’.
“I slammed the brakes on and just stopped in the middle of the road.
“She shouted, ‘Look’ and through the window I saw a man being attacked on the floor. They were about 100 yards away. At the time I had no clue who it was. I was in complete shock.
“I just started shaking. I tried to get my phone and call the police but I couldn’t even type in 999, my hands were shaking so much.
“Gemini went to open her door and I shouted, ‘Gem, don’t open it’.
But at that moment Amanda, who has another daughter and a son, felt her maternal instinct take over.
She said: “I was thinking, “Do I drive or do I help?’ I had to make that split-second decision. It was instinct. I jumped out of the car.
“I could see Lee Rigby on the side of the road 100 yards away from us. He was slumped up against the wall.
“I just started running towards them. I was thinking, ‘Is there anything I can do?’ I was shouting, ‘Stop it’. Everything seemed to go into slow motion. It was like I was in the Twilight Zone.”
Woolwich attack: Angels who helped murdered soldier Lee Rigby relive horror for first time; Ben Griffiths; 16 June 2013.
Here is another case where someone could have confused yards with feet. 100 feet is about the length of a football pitch. 100 yards is the length of 3 of them – the Donnellys would not have been able to see Rigby at that distance because they would have been well down Wellington Street on their way to Tesco. Please note that the Bus Footage does not show the car that the Donnellys arrived in – but this could be that the camera does not sweep very far down Artillery Place. It strikes the author that the silver car that featured so predominantly in the Shop Footage (see Chapter Seven) is the car that delivered the Donnellys. This car could also be the one seen in the Camera Phone Footage (see Fig. 181) parked in about the same place as the silver car stopped. Where this car is placed is about 100 feet away from where Rigby was attacked.
There is another report of the arrival of the Donnellys, and this was given to a television interviewer on the day by Joe Tallant. This young man was interviewed by several corporate-media outlets. He was supposedly in and around the shop at the time of the attack, although it is hard to make sense of what he had to say because he claimed to have heard gun shots whilst in the shop before seeing the knife attack. In addition, he is not seen in the Bus Footage. Nevertheless, Tallant had this to say about the Donnellys’ arrival:
“My friend and her mum were walking up the hill and the mum came straight to the victim.
“She asked the black guys, ‘Can I help him?’ And one of them said he was already dead but she could have a go. Then one of them said, ‘No man is coming near this body, only women.’
“She was so brave, she didn’t care what happened to her; she knelt down by his side and comforted him. She held his hand and put her other hand on his chest.”
Woolwich attack: terrorist proclaimed ‘an eye for an eye’ after attack; Gordon Rayner et al; 22 May 2013.
This is quite a detailed story from someone who couldn’t be seen on the scene and would have had to be near to have heard these conversations. It doesn’t tell a story quite like Joe Tallant does, but the “bumper clock” is another useful tool that is observable in the footage of the Donnellys arriving; it can be seen being in the 11-o-clock position, confirming that what we are seeing is right at the start of the incident.
As things develop on the street stage, the Donnellys are joined by Loyau Kennett, and the first full image of these people altogether that is in the public domain is the one that is taken from the top floor of the bus (see Fig. 26). What we should notice first of all about this image is that the time stamp has been deliberately cropped from the bottom left corner. This image was around for a long time before the CCTV still of the Donnellys arriving was released by the police – around the time of the trial – and when the later image was released it perhaps answered a burning question as to why this time stamp was cropped (it certainly caused another question): maybe it didn’t tally with the time stamp on the CCTV still?
Like the Nimmos, the Donnellys do something that they don’t account for in the interviews they did with the British media. There is a period after this photograph is taken when Gemini disappears from the group around Rigby’s body. She didn’t go too far away. She can be found in the Sun Angel Footage. She is outside the shop on the pavement of Rectory Place. She seems to be receiving a hug from a much taller individual. This man is in a predominantly red coat – it also has a distinctive blue trimming. Their interaction ends when another man scurries along the pavement and appears to direct Gemini with a pointing arm. This man is wearing blue jeans and a dark blue top, and is not seen very much elsewhere, if at all, in any of the footage. He distinctly points to the group in the road, and Gemini responds by walking in that direction – it is as if she had been told to rejoin the group. In fact, we know she does this because there is footage of her being with her mother when Amanda gets up from sitting with Rigby, which is later on in the course of events.
How is this to be explained in the context of the Donnellys’ organic coming upon the incident, as they claimed to be what happened to them? Naturally, if the women live in the vicinity then Gemini might have bumped into someone she could receive a hug from. However, how does this square with the idea that Gemini considered herself and her mother to have exposed themselves to danger – and we know this to be the case because that is what she reported in the People interview, as will be seen shortly – by stopping at the scene? If the big fellow knew Gemini perhaps it would have been more natural for him to remove that feeling of danger that she had for herself and her mother by dealing with the two Michaels – one of which was so clean that he had surely not yet been in any scuffle, and wouldn’t fare well in one that any challenger could introduce to him.
In actual fact, if any of this behaviour is strange in the context, then it is dwarfed in significance by the fact that Gemini appeared to be receiving direction to return to the crux of the action. One cannot invent any innocent rationale for why that man would urge her to expose herself to risk by approaching the supposed murderers.
If this isn’t inconvenient enough, Gemini also makes another appearance in the background in the footage much later on (see Fig. 186). Before we study this, let us be reminded about what they told their newspaper interviewer:
Police sirens sounded nearby and Amanda and Gemini took it as their cue to leave, fearing there could be a shoot-out between the police and suspected attackers.
Gemini said: “It was so sad but I was telling Mum that we had to leave. She had done all she could. We had put ourselves in enough danger.”
After leaving the scene, both women went home, stunned by what they had witnessed. Amanda recalled: “I knocked at a neighbour’s house and just started crying.
Woolwich attack: Angels who helped murdered soldier Lee Rigby relive horror for first time; Ben Griffiths; 16 June 2013.
Ingrid Loyau Kennett also spoke of hearing sirens, even though the two Michaels never seemed to show much recognition of them. Be that as it may, Gemini didn’t leave the scene directly even if she left the immediate vicinity of Rigby’s body. In the ITN-Kipre Footage, as Adebolajo finishes his rant and moves back across the road – and this is only a matter of minutes before the shootout phase begins – Gemini is discovered once again in the background. This time, she is approached by a more slender figure wearing dowdy colours that give the general impression of being gray. She definitely stops, this new woman, in front of Gemini, and presumably they are talking. This is the group that Cream Hoodie – him again – seems to be approaching when the footage finally ends.
So, Gemini seems to be present on the scene within minutes of the police arriving – on the opposite side of the incident to where her car is supposed to be parked. We can work out the exact time of day this is supposed to be because this moment in the ITN-Kipre footage overlaps with the Council Footage, and that timestamp tells us that the time at that moment was 14:33:31. This is seconds away from the shootout phase. There is, then, a bit of a mystery about when the Donnellys are meant to have left the scene – there is moment in the ITN-Kipre footage where Footage Gemini does a lot of gesticulating at her mother in the direction of the bottom of Artillery Place (see Fig. 185) – the same direction from which they had burst on to the scene. Is it pointless to speculate as to whether or not this was moment that Gemini was trying to convince her mother to leave? If so, why bother if she wasn’t going to leave herself? Was she just doing it for the cameras?
Of course, the counter argument could have it that the figure seen lingering on the scene was not Gemini – and we could let that counter argument stand. There still is a problem in the account of Gemini and Amanda with respect the omission made regarding their separation: how seriously would have we taken the Donnellys sense of danger if we had been told that Gemini Donnelly had spent some of the incident cuddling a friend by the shop? If we were generous, we could even turn a blind eye to how she was interrupted in this activity – there might well be a rational explanation for it even if we could think of one. None of this really matters as most doubt about the Donnellys is provoked by the somewhat pivotal role that Amanda played in the waiting period – this will be discussed in the next chapter.