LONDON: The British soldier killed by suspected Islamic extremists in London last week was run over before being attacked by two men armed with a cleaver and a knife, an inquest heard on Friday.
The inquest in the brutal murder of Lee Rigby on May 22 in Woolwich, southeast London, was opened at Southwark Coroner’s Court in the capital before being adjourned.
Later Friday, Queen Elizabeth II was to visit the barracks in Woolwich where Rigby was based, in a trip arranged before his death.
None of Rigby’s family attended the opening of the inquest, but they issued a statement calling for calm following a rise in community tensions after his death.
“Lee would not want people to use his name as an excuse to carry out attacks against others,” they said in the statement.
“We would not wish any other families to go through this harrowing experience and appeal to everyone to keep calm and show their respect in a peaceful manner,” the statement added.
In a brief hearing, the coroner’s court heard the soldier, who was a recruiting officer, was killed as he returned home after a day working at the Tower of London, his regimental headquarters.
The 25-year-old had to be identified by a dental expert, the court heard. A post-mortem examination had already found that he died from multiple cut and stab wounds.
“On Wednesday May 22, at approximately 2:20 p.m., Lee was returning to barracks after a day working at the Tower of London,” Detective Chief Insp. Grant Mallon told the hearing.
“As he walked into Artillery Place [a road in Woolwich], a vehicle is seen to swerve into the carriageway on which he was walking and strike him.
“The two occupants of the vehicle then exit the vehicle and attack him with a cleaver and a knife,” he added.
Mallon, a member of Scotland Yard’s counterterrorism command, said the soldier suffered “extensive and serious injuries” and investigations were continuing into those responsible.
Security at the court was beefed up for the inquest, which will seek to establish the circumstances of Rigby’s death without apportioning blame. It was adjourned to a date yet to be confirmed.
One man, 22-year-old Michael Adebowale, has appeared in court charged with the soldier’s murder and another, 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo remains under arrest in hospital. Both men were shot by police at the scene.
The murder has sparked a political row over whether new measures are needed to deal with Islamic extremism in Britain.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister David Cameron’s government dropped legislation to give the security services access to emails and social media messages because of divisions within the coalition. AFP
Home Secretary Theresa May, a member of Cameron’s Conservative party, wants to revive the so-called “snooper’s charter”, saying it was “essential” to the work of the intelligence agencies.