We have covered various aspects of the Lee Rigby case in the last few years. Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale were convicted of last year of murder and were both sentenced to life imprisonment (whole life and 45 years being their respective tariffs).
On 3rd December 2014, their legal case came to an end. Their applications to appeal their convictions and sentence were refused and that (subject to any application to the CCRC) is the end of the road for them. We would actually put a small caveat to that – it is likely that at some point the UK admit defeat in its attempts to keep whole life tariffs and it may be that Mr Adbolajo gets a determinate sentence at some point in the future.
Mr Adebowale had permission to appeal the length of his tariff, but Mr Adebolajo was trying to renew his application to appeal his conviction and sentence. It is likely that the full judgment will be published in due course, but it is no surprise that the conviction appeal went nowhere (it was described as ‘misconceived and completely hopeless‘, which sounds about right).
The sentence appeals did not get much further, with the Court saying that they were ““just” punishment for the “horrific and barbaric” murder.” Subject to the legality of whole life (and indeed 45 year) tariffs, it is unsurprising that the Court took this view.
One question that has already been asked is why should the tax payer pay for an appeal in these cases? Firstly, it should be noted that this actually only applies to Mr Adebowale. Legal aid will not be granted for a renewed application.
And as to why we pay for Mr Adebowale? Well, because it’s the law, and it’s the right thing to do. The complaints about legal aid for this are the same complaints that we heard in the 1970s as to why the Birmingham 6, the Guildford 4 etc got legal aid. I’m not comparing them obviously, but the rule of law demands that all people get the same treatment.
In this case, a High Court Judge concluded that it was arguable that Mr Adebowale received a sentence that was outside the range that could lawfully have been imposed. As it turns out, the ‘Full Court’ concluded that the sentence was lawful, but it is right that Mr Adebowale has legal aid to argue this. Not least because we know then that the argument was properly put by a professional, and therefore that justice has been done. In the long run, it was the right thing to happen.