LONDON -- An al-Qaida-inspired extremist was sentenced to life without parole Wednesday for hacking an off-duty British soldier to death on a London street in front of horrified passers-by.

Images of Michael Adebolajo, 29, holding a butcher knife and cleaver with bloodied hands in the moments after the May 22 killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby shocked people around the world and sparked fears of Islamist terrorism in Britain.

The self-described "soldier of Allah'' was sentenced at Central Criminal Court along with his accomplice, 22-year-old Michael Adebowale, who was sentenced to life with a minimum of 45 years in jail because of his age and lesser role in the murder.

The day ended in drama when both men were pinned to the ground and led out of the courtroom after scuffling with guards and shouting at the judge moments before their sentences were read out.

Adebolajo yelled "Allahu akbar'' -- "God is great''-- while Adebowale called out "that's a lie'' as the judge told them they had been radicalized.

Outside the court, protesters from two far-right groups erected gallows and demanded capital punishment for the two men.

The pair was convicted in December of murdering Rigby, 25, who was walking near his barracks in south London when the men ran him over with a car. They then dragged his body onto the road, and repeatedly stabbed him with knives. Adebowale attacked his torso, while Adebolajo attempted to cut off the soldier's head with a cleaver.

Moments after the killing, Adebolajo was filmed by onlookers delivering a rambling monologue justifying the attack as he held the bloodied weapons.

Rigby was killed because ``Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers'' _ ``an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,'' he said in the video, which was broadcast around the world.

In his testimony, Adebolajo told the court that he loved al-Qaida -- though he never met its members. He also said he and Adebowale had decided to kill a British soldier and Rigby was the first they came across.

Judge Nigel Sweeney said their actions were "sickening and pitiless'' and resulted in a "bloodbath.'' He added that he was certain Adebolajo had no hope of rehabilitation.

"You decided, between you, and in order to advance your extremist cause, to murder a soldier in public in broad daylight and to do so in a way that would generate maximum media coverage,'' he said. "You both gloried in what you had done.''

Rigby's family said after the sentencing that they were satisfied justice has been served.

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  • Michael Adebolajo, 29, has been found guilty of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby by jurors at the Old Bailey.

  • Michael Adebowale

    Michael Adebowale, 22, has been found guilty of the murder of Lee Rigby by jurors at the Old Bailey.

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    Vauxhall Tigra in the compound

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    Michael Adebolajo during police interview

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    Army Bag

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    kitchen knife recovered at the scene.

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    found in the Vauxhall Tigra on the passenger seat.

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    Letter handed by one of defendants to a member of the public (side 2)

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    Letter handed by one of defendants to a member of the public (side 1)

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    Adebowale whilst on the floor raising his gun

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    Adebolajo and Adebowale on the floor

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    Adebolajo falling to the floor

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    Adebolajo walking back to the south footpath of Artillery Place as bus reverses

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    Adebolajo and Adebowale talking to member of the public

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    Adebowale with gun in right hand behind tree

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    Vauxhall Tigra drives westbound Wellington Street, Woolwich, at 13:30hrs, 22 May 2013

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    Adebolajo purchases knife set and sharpener from Argos at 14:13 on 21 May 2013

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    Adebolajo enters Argos in Lewisham at 13:55 on 21 May 2013

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    a still showing bullet damage to a green telephone box

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    a still showing bullet damage to the wall

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    a still of Lee Rigby at Woolwich DLR station on 22 May 2013

  • Latest material from the Lee Rigby murder trial

    The gun used

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The family of Fusilier Lee Rigby, wife Rebecca with son Jack arrive at Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The hearse carrying the coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby arrives at Bury Parish church in Bury, Greater Manchester, ahead of his funeral tomorrow.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The family of Fusilier Lee Rigby, wife Rebecca with son Jack arrive at Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    Mourners including wife Rebecca with son Jack (right) arrive at Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of the funeral of Fusilier Lee Rigby.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is brought to Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The family of Fusilier Lee Rigby, wife Rebecca with son Jack arrive at Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is brought to Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is brought to Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is carried into Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is carried into Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is carried into Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The family of Fusilier Lee Rigby, Wife Rebecca with son Jack leave Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, after a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is carried into Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    Rebecca Rigby carries her son Jack alongside her mother Susan Metcalfe as the leave Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, after a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is brought to Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    Crowds line the streets as coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is brought to Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    Lyn Rigby (centre) the mother of Fusilier Lee Rigby leaves Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, after a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is brought to Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    Aimee West, fiancee of Fusilier Lee Rigby, (second left black stripy top), watches as wife Rebecca Rigby, carrying son Jack, follows the coffin as it arrives at Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is brought to Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is brought into Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is brought to Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is brought to Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is brought to Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The hearse carrying the coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby arrives at Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is brought to Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is brought to Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    The coffin of Fusilier Lee Rigby is carried into Bury Parish church in Greater Manchester, for a vigil on the eve of his funeral.

  • Lee Rigby funeral

    An envelope addressed to Middleton in Manchester and Woolwich in London, sent from Barbados, sent to Rebecca Rigby, wife of murdered soldier Lee Rigby, at the Fusilier Museum in Bury, during a media interview in the run up to her husbands funeral.