Monday 27 March 2017

Killer of Jo Cox shouted 'Britain First' as he shot and stabbed her - court hears

Jo Cox
Jo Cox
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The "cowardly" killer of Jo Cox repeatedly shouted "Britain First" as he shot and stabbed the Labour MP a week before the EU referendum, a court heard.

Gardener Thomas Mair, 53, allegedly murdered the 41-year-old outside her constituency surgery in Birstall, near Leeds, on June 16.

Opening his Old Bailey trial, Richard Whittam QC told jurors how mother-of-two Mrs Cox had supported the Remain campaign leading up to the referendum on June 23.

On the afternoon of Thursday June 16 2016, she was to hold a surgery in the library in Market Street, having visited a local school and a care home.

Mr Whittam told jurors: "As she arrived she was brutally murdered by one of her constituents, this defendant, Thomas Mair.

"It was a cowardly attack by a man armed with a firearm and a knife.

"Jo Cox was shot three times and suffered multiple stab wounds.

"During the course of the murder Thomas Mair was heard by a number of witnesses to say repeatedly 'Britain First'."

During the attack, a 77-year-old local man risked his own life in an effort to save hers, the court heard.

He was stabbed once by Mair with the same knife that he used to stab Mrs Cox.

Jurors were shown pictures of the .22 Weihrauch bolt-action weapon with its stock and most of its barrel removed, leaving it just 12 inches (30cm) long.

Mrs Cox's blood was found on the barrel during forensic examination, jurors were told.

She was hit three times, once in the chest and twice in the head, with wounds to her hands showing she raised them to try to defend herself, a post mortem examination found.

The Labour MP was also stabbed 15 times, including in the heart and lungs.

A knife with a seven-inch (17.7cm) blade was found in gardener Thomas Mair's backpack along with the adapted gun when he was arrested, it is alleged, with .22 ammunition also found in his pockets.

Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting, said: "Blood on the handle of the knife contains a major DNA profile matching that of Jo Cox and a minor DNA profile of the defendant."

Emergency services arrived within minutes and she was given an emergency thoracotomy as she lay in the street, the court heard.

The prosecutor told jurors: "The murder took place whilst she was performing her role as a Member of Parliament.

"Thomas Mair's intention was to kill her in what was a planned and pre-meditated murder for a political and/or ideological cause."

The defendant allegedly used a .22 gun adapted to kill and a dagger-like knife.

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, from Birstall, also pleads not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Bernard Carter-Kenny on the same date.

Mrs Cox's parents and sister sat in court as the prosecutor told jurors to apply cool logic in the "shocking" case.

The trial is being heard by senior judge Mr Justice Wilkie and is expected to go on for up to three weeks.

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