Police officer feared Woolwich suspect would kill her, court hears

LONDON Tue Dec 3, 2013 7:33pm GMT

1 of 7. Michael Adebowale (R) and Michael Adebolajo speak to members of the public in Woolwich in this handout still image taken from May 22, 2013 CCTV footage by the Metropolitan Police, that was shown to the jury during the Lee Rigby murder trial at the Old Bailey in London December 3, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Metropolitan Police/Handout via Reuters

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LONDON (Reuters) - A police officer who arrived shortly after a British soldier was hacked to death in broad daylight on a London street thought she too was going to be killed by one of the suspected murderers, the Old Bailey court was told on Tuesday.

Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, are accused of running over Drummer Lee Rigby, 25, as he crossed a street in Woolwich, southeast London, in May before attacking his unconscious body with a meat cleaver and knives.

In comments read out by prosecutor Richard Whittam, the female specialist firearms officer, identified only as 'D49', said how she feared she too would be attacked moments after arriving on the scene.

"I saw a flash to my right and I saw a black male running towards with me with both hands in the air with a chopping motion," the officer said.

She saw what appeared to be a meat cleaver in the man's right hand.

"I instantly thought he's going to kill me," said D49, one of three firearms officers who rushed to the scene.

She said at one point one of the two suspects was just a metre away from her police car as she unsuccessfully tried to pull out a gun before managing to hit the man with her taser stun gun.

A second firearms officer, referred to as E48, told the court in person that one of the men immediately ran towards the police car once he and his two colleagues pulled up.

"He almost instantly broke into a sprint. I realised that we were being attacked and we have very little time to deal with the threat," the officer said behind a screen to protect his identity.

"PROUD"

During evidence in the morning, the jury heard from a member of the public who said the two suspects had posed proudly following the attack.

Tina Nimmo was in a car driving past the scene with her daughter Michelle and baby grandchild. They stopped and Tina approached the two men.

The court heard she shouted at onlookers to move away from the scene and described her horror at how the men, wielding a gun and knives, reacted to a bus-load of passengers pulling up opposite where the soldier's body lay.

"(They) posed a bit more. Very proud of what they had in their hands," Tina Nimmo said in tears in the witness box.

"These chaps weren't going anywhere. They were staying there," she said to a silent court room.

Several witnesses have described to the court seeing the attack and aftermath, and the prosecution has said the two suspects dragged Rigby's body into the middle of the road for as many people to see as possible.

The jury also heard defence lawyer David Gottlieb challenge the evidence given by police officer Melita Vejnovic who guarded Adebolajo whilst he was in hospital.

She reported that Adebolajo had told her Rigby "was in kit or uniform" at the time of the attack, words which Gottlieb disputed. Vejnovic stood by her account.

Both men deny murder and the trial is expected to last three weeks.

(editing by Stephen Addison)

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