25 May 2013

Slain soldier's family speak of their shock and grief

9:15 pm on 25 May 2013

The family of the British soldier hacked to death in a London street have spoken for the first time about their shock and grief.

Lee Rigby, a 25-year-old drummer with the Royal Fusiliers, was killed near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, south-east London, on Thursday.

Suspects Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, are under guard in hospital after being shot and arrested by police. No charges have yet been laid.

The pair are suspected of running down Drummer Rigby in a car before attacking him with knives and a meat cleaver.

At an emotional news conference at the regimental headquarters of Drummer Rigby's unit, his widow Rebecca said she had expected him to be safe after he had served a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

"You don't expect it to happen when he's in the UK," she said. "You think they're safe.

"He was a devoted father to our (two-year-old) son Jack and we will both miss him terribly. I love Lee and always will."

'Our hearts have been ripped apart from us'

Stepfather Ian Rigby said his heart "skipped a beat" when he saw the news on television. "Obviously we didn't know it was Lee," he said, "but your heart skips a beat when you see something like that on TV, you know your son is in that area.

"As soon as it was on the telly we were attempting to get hold of Lee, obviously we couldn't and it was the middle of the night probably when we got confirmed to us it was Lee."

Mr Rigby said "Our hearts have been ripped apart from us".

The two suspects were previously known to British intelligence services, but had reportedly been assessed as not posing a deadly threat.

Mr Adebolajo had attended meetings of a now-banned Islamist group and reportedly sold extremist leaflets in Woolwich.