8 – Facts as Presented to Court (and Maybe Not)

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One of the principle facts of the case was how the Tigra struck Lee Rigby while travelling at a speed of 30-40mph; at least this was claimed by the prosecutor.  But actually we need to be clear – the officially stated speed of the car wasn’t a real fact. It was actually an opinion that did not get disputed. Furthermore, it wasn’t a fact because of vagueness: “between 30 and 40 miles per hour” is not a precise measurement of speed, and there is a world of difference between what a car does when it strikes a pedestrian at 31mph, and what it does at 39mph. In fact, the production of the phrase at court suggests that no one knew an actual fact about the Tigra’s speed that day – therefore, no one knew what to have expected to happen to Lee Rigby after he had been struck. Furthermore, it is not clear who the opinion belonged to in the first instance – where it originated from. Was it the summation of an expert who had watched the footage? Was it an approximation generated by a computer programme, or by any computation? Was it according to Adebolajo? In fact, could Adebolajo even be sure of the speed he was doing if he was concentrating on aiming the vehicle so as to strike and incapacitate a pedestrian? Was it according to the driver who was controlling the vehicle that followed Adebolajo, and if so, why such a large range if he had access to dashboard readouts?

Fig. 44 – compare with Fig. 27. Rigby is the tiny figure on the right hand side; he will pass the pedestrian crossing by.
Fig. 44 – compare with Fig. 27. Rigby is the tiny figure on the right hand side; he will pass the pedestrian crossing by.

Fact one in the case, therefore, is an approximation of speed – with origins unsubstantiated, but undoubtedly only an opinion. As mentioned, it became a fact in the trial merely because the defence counsels did not dispute it.

The court was also shown the Shop Footage. In relation to the interaction between Rigby and the Tigra, it shows the former crossing Artillery Place at an angle (rather than crossing perpendicular to the kerb) so that the all traffic coming from behind could not be seen. Rigby’s crossing takes place beyond the pedestrian crossing at the foot of Artillery Place, and so it should be noted that although his route took him past the facility, he declined to use it; he foreswore the option that arguably most people would take whatever the traffic conditions. The footage shows that the Tigra is very slow through the junction, and so a window opens up between it and two vehicles that had come up Artillery Place in front of it. Rigby steps into this window, and is half way across the downwards lane when the Tigra, having crossed the central reservation, coincides at that place in the road.

As previously and briefly mentioned, the moment of impact was shown exclusively to the court, but there is some confusion about this. Some press reports suggest that their writers, who otherwise claimed to be in attendance at the trial, didn’t know what the film footage showed. To demonstrate, the following are a selection:

Then he [Lee Rigby] is caught on film, a small figure in the distance walking along Artillery Place. From the footage it is clear he glances at the Vauxhall Tigra coming his way as he crosses the road. But he had turned his back by the time it veers over the central line and accelerates towards him. The 25-year-old is thrown on to the bonnet; the car then disappears off-screen.

In a split second the horrifying details of Lee Rigby’s death were revealed at the Old Bailey yesterday, leaving the courtroom in silence.

‘Butchered like a joint of meat’: Jurors gasp as they are shown footage of Lee Rigby murder[1]; Paul Peachy; 29 November 2013.

Footage showed the Tigra driving straight at Mr Rigby, tossing him into the air.

Footage showed Mr Rigby being hit from behind, and falling off the bonnet of the car onto the pavement.

Fusilier Lee Rigby trial: Prosecution key points[2]; staff writer; 29 November 2013.

CCTV footage shows the soldier crossing the road in Woolwich carrying an Army backpack and wearing a Help for Heroes hoodie when the Vauxhall Tigra car drives straight into the back of him.

The Fusilier, who was walking back to his barracks nearby, was flung onto the bonnet of the car and his body carried onto the pavement by the force of the impact.

There was stunned silence in the courtroom of the Old Bailey as the moving images were shown on the first day of the trial of two men accused of the soldier’s murder.

Lee Rigby Woolwich murder trial: CCTV shows the moment car swerved into soldier before barbarous assault[3]; Justin Davenport; 29 November 2013

The honest version is the first version. The second version says that Rigby could be seen falling on the pavement. This could not have happened. The CCTV footage from the Victoria Tavern, the Shop Footage, could not have shown Lee Rigby being deposited on the floor because the building blocked the necessary area from view. Why did the writer of this report invent details regarding the contents of this CCTV footage? The third version says that Rigby was carried on to the pavement. This is not entirely incorrect, but it is not very clear in its meaning. Does it mean the car went on the pavement with Rigby on it? Or does it mean that Rigby was seen to deposited on the pavement? Why can’t the writer be more exact than that? Has he even seen the footage, or is he just relaying something he has been told? Unfortunately, the quality of coverage of the supposed fact of Rigby’s collection by the Tigra provokes a lot of doubt regarding who had visibility of this footage. If we are being lied to in the court-reporting, then it could very well be the case that there is no footage after all of Rigby being struck. We are left in a difficult position of having to believe something that we haven’t seen, and to trust that the jury was in a much more informed position than we are without being sure that that it even saw any such material to create that state of being.

Fig. 45 – the image of the Tigra presented to court.
Fig. 45 – the image of the Tigra presented to court.

Nevertheless, this localised knot can be overlooked for the time being; we should put inconsistencies in reporting down to flawed journalism – for now. The official story has it that after mounting the pavement, the Tigra manoeuvred to straighten up to hit the stanchion at right angles. This means that it must have disappeared off of the screen – by which must be meant disappeared from view. This means that of the three reports above, the first one is the fact that we should accept was presented to the court.

However, there is still a little flaw in the reaching of this conclusion. It is not known what the jury were told about with regards the precise pathway of the Tigra as it mounted the pavement. This is one of the holes in the narrative that are going to be discussed in Chapter Ten. We should remember that it very much appears that the route of the Tigra was established by corporate-media in the days after the incident. This information does not then seem to have been reinforced in court, but has been left to be assumed as being true. In other words, the assertions presented to court in prosecution frame the issue. It’s like saying A and C are true – therefore just assume that B, which is the means by which we get from A to C, is also true. It’s a very strange state of affairs because the footage should show where the Tigra left the road; but it’s almost as if too much detail begins to present problems for the narrative – in other words, B isn’t after all what we are told to expect it to be, and B cannot be scrutinised too much because it might disprove the relationship between A and C.

We should assume from the complete silence on the matter – it is not mentioned explicitly in the court reporting as being shown in the film – that the Shop Footage did not capture the crash into the stanchion. However, there are certainly indications in the same footage that suggest a crash has happened when viewed from 13:26:08 onwards. Debris can be seen on the pavement – which means across the 8 seconds that the public does not get to see, there has been enough time for this debris to settle. This is interesting in the case of a plastic hub cap that came to rest in front of the southern stanchion. Usually, these things tend to roll or spin before they fall over, although it is not entirely guaranteed. On the other hand, perhaps we should have been able to see smoke pouring into the air since the smash caused a leakage from the engine suggesting that it had been severely damaged – but again, this is perhaps not something that is certain to happen.

Fig. 46 – the image of Rigby’s ruck sack.
Fig. 46 – the image of Rigby’s ruck sack.

The way that the prosecution established the reality of a collision between Rigby and the Tigra was through witness statements, and there were three eye witnesses who testified at the trial to seeing this coming together. These were Amanda Bailey, Saraj Miah, and John Power. To reiterate, these three witnesses submitted statements, but were not present in the court in person. And although they certainly state that they saw Lee Rigby being hit, none of these people mentioned seeing the crash of the Tigra into the sign stanchion. This didn’t stop someone in court at some point claiming that Amanda Bailey saw the final crash, but when one looks into it one finds the following exact configuration of sentences over again in different online news paper articles:

Amanda Bailey saw the events from inside her Peugeot 206, the jury heard.

She saw the Tigra strike Fusilier Rigby and carry him until the car crashed into a road sign.

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’[4]; Chris Greenwood et al; 29 November 2013.

Undoubtedly, the reporting is trying to make it look as if Bailey reported the crash into the stanchion when she clearly can’t be shown to from the wordage to have said anything of the sort.

Two other pieces of physical evidence were presented to the court – or rather, photographs of the evidence were produced. The first, the Tigra, was pictured out of context and stored in a warehouse. As mentioned above, it is entirely possible that jurors were shown representations of the Tigra in situ – and we shouldn’t forget that jury members, well before they had been selected, would have been exposed like everyone else to imagery of the crash. It should perhaps be noted that there is no reportage of the jury visiting the crime scene – therefore it is assumed there was no such visit. For people who don’t understand the significance of this, it has been known in cases where car crashes have been related to acts of murder for a jury to be sent to examine the scene of the crash.

Fig. 47 – Rigby’s rucksack – straps facing away from the wall. Debris suggesting a crash can also be seen here.
Fig. 47 – Rigby’s rucksack – straps facing away from the wall. Debris suggesting a crash can also be seen here.

The second piece of evidence was a photograph of Lee Rigby’s rucksack, apparently in situ. However, there is a problem in that when one compares it to images of the scene while the incident was ongoing, it seems to have been turned. It’s very odd. Perhaps there has been too much CSI: Vegas on the television that has made forensic detectives of is all, but maybe we should expect to see in this photo a representation of the bag as it “landed” – as it was when it was discovered on the crime scene. After all, this sort of photo is surely for the cataloguing of in-situ detail. Perhaps later, when the item was taken to a crime scene lab, other documenting photos might have been taken by which more information about the object itself could be garnered.

The last piece of evidence regarding this part of the incident is Adebolajo’s statement given during a recorded interview in police custody. It’s an interview that Chapter 24 is in part dedicated to, so not much will be said about it here except to say that he talked about driving into Rigby and the stanchion. The jury was also shown footage containing his rant at bus passengers – presumably a clip from either the ITN-Kipre Footage, or the Sun Angel Footage.. In this speech he talked about why “we” had killed Lee Rigby.

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[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/lee-rigby-murder-trial-hears-of-cowardly-callous-and-barbarous-attack-8972608.html

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25152141

[3] http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/lee-rigby-woolwich-murder-trial-cctv-shows-the-moment-car-swerved-into-soldier-before-barbarous-assault-8972842.html

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