The suspects accused of killing Fusilier Lee Rigby made a "serious and almost successful attempt" to decapitate the soldier during the "cowardly and callous" murder, a court has heard.

The Old Bailey was told Michael Adebowale, 22, and Michael Adebolajo, 28, drove into the 25-year-old at 40mph before launching onto the "barbarous" attack using knives and meat cleavers.

Adebowale and Adebolajo are accused of murdering the solider on the streets on Woolwich on 22 May. The pair are also accused of attempting to murder a police officer and conspiracy to murder a police officer.

The pair deny these charges, but have pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

The jury heard that, after the suspects got out of their Vauxhall Tigra, they began to hack at the body of Rigby as he lay unconscious on the floor.

The pair then dragged Rigby's body into the middle of the street so the public could see what they had done.

Prosecutor Richard Whittam QC told the court: "Michael Adebolajo made a serious and almost successful attempt to decapitate him with multiple blows to his neck made with the meat clever.

"At the same time as Michael Adebolajo used the meat cleaver, Michael Adebowale was using a knife to stab and cut at Lee Rigby's body.

"Both men then dragged Lee Rigby's body into the middle of the road. They wanted the members of the public present to see the consequence of their barbarous acts."

The court heard how both men also planned to kill a police officer when they arrived at the scene. When a police car arrived, both men charged towards it at speed.

Adebolajo raised the meat cleaver he used in the attack on Rigby while Adebowale aimed a revolver, which was not loaded, at the officers.

Both men were then shot and detained by police. The prosecution said if Adebolajo not had been shot it would have been "hard to believe" he would not have killed an officer.

Rigby, 25, from Crumpsall, Manchester, was a drummer in the 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. The father-of-one's family were in court to hear their prosecution's opening statements.

Adebolajo, from Romford, east London, asked to be known as Mujaahid Abu Hamza in court, and Adebowale, from Greenwich, south-east London, asked to be known as Ismail Ibn Abdullah.

The trial continues.