Jo Cox suspect told police 'it's me' as they wrestled him to the ground, court heard
Published 16/11/2016 | 11:18
A far right extremist told police "it's me" before he was rugby tackled to the ground after the killing of Labour MP Jo Cox, a court heard.
Thomas Mair, 53, is accused of repeatedly shooting and stabbing the 41-year-old Remain campaigner a week before the EU referendum vote.
Mrs Cox was set upon outside her constituency surgery in Birstall, near Leeds, in front of her staff and shocked passersby.
Her assistant stepped in and hit Mair with her handbag while 77-year-old Bernard Carter-Kenny desperately tried to intervene but was stabbed too, the court heard.
Throughout the "cowardly" killing, the defendant was heard to rant "Britain first", prosecutor Richard Whittam QC has told jurors.
The gardener, who had looked up right wing literature in his local library, was arrested a mile away from the attack, jurors were told.
Pc Craig Nicholls was on mobile police patrol with Pc Jonathan Wright in Risedale Avenue where they arrested Mair.
The unarmed officers had been given a description of a man to look out for who was suspected of being involved in a shooting.
Pc Nicholls told jurors they spotted a suspect matching the description just after 1.30pm in nearby Leeds Road carrying a black holdall.
He said: "We drove past him initially. I spun the vehicle around. That's when he disappeared."
Pc Nicholls turned into a cul-de-sac and saw the man in the middle of the road.
His colleague leaned out and ordered him "several times" to put the bag down and show his hands.
The West Yorkshire Police officer told jurors: "He dropped the bag to his right hand side. He turned around and it was very quick, put his hands into his pockets.
"I just remember seeing loose change fall out of his pockets.
"At that point he put his arms out and said 'it's me'."
The officer told jurors that they then "rugby tackled him to the ground".
The defendant then told officers "I'm a political activist", the officer said.
Mair denies Mrs Cox's murder, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of an offensive weapon - a dagger.
Mair also pleads not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Bernard Carter-Kenny on the same date.
Simon Russell Flint QC, for Mair, suggested that the defendant did not shout "It's me" or claim to be a political activist and had remained silent throughout his arrest.
Cross-examining Pc Nicholls, he said: "There is a lot of radio noise. The (police) car engine is running. You are 20 yards away. Pc Wright is shouting at him (Mair) to drop it (the bag). You are still in the car, as is Pc Wright.
"And you are saying you could both hear something like 'It's me'?"
Pc Nicholls replied: "He did say it."
Mr Russell Flint continued: "I'm going to suggest that is not correct. Nothing like that was said like that by this man."
Pc Nicholls replied: "That is what I heard."
The defence barrister also alleged that Mair had not said he was a political activist, adding: "I'm going to suggest that no such thing was said by Mr Mair."
Pc Nicholls again said he heard it uttered by the defendant.
Mr Russell Flint went on: "You say he was asked what he had got on him and he said he had a knife in his pocket?"
Pc Nicholls said: "That's correct."
Mr Russell Flint said: "There was no knife in his pocket and I'm suggesting he did not say he had a knife in his pocket."
Pc Nicholls responded: "The defendant said he had a knife in his pocket."
The lawyer also asserted that Mair said nothing about having a gun, and suggested that one of the officers commented "We are going to get into trouble for this", but Pc Nicholls denied it.
Jurors were shown images from the scene of Mair's arrest, including the black holdall containing the sawn-off German-made .22 rifle prosecutors allege was used in the murder.
They were also shown an image of a baseball cap lying in a splatter of blood, with jurors told that Mair suffered a head injury while being arrested.
They were also shown a short video clip taken by someone living in the street, showing Mair being arrested.
Pc Wright echoed his colleague's account of Mair's arrest.
He said: "As we ran towards him - I cannot remember getting out of the vehicle - the next thing I remember is running shoulder to shoulder with Pc Nicholls as fast as we could.
"As we reached the male, his arms moved towards his belt line. I was fearful because he had a loose-fitting shirt and I could not see what he had underneath so we both took him to the ground.
"I asked him 'What have you got on you?' and he told me 'I've got a knife in my pocket'."
After searching his pockets, the officer said he saw a gun in the defendant's holdall.
He said: "I opened the bag to have a look in it. I saw a firearm."
He also found a bag of bullets, he added.