Sunday 19 November 2017

Thomas Mair found guilty of the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox

Jo Cox
Jo Cox
Thomas Mair
A sketch of Thomas Mair as he appeared in court Photo: PA

Neo-Nazi Thomas Mair, who gunned down Labour MP Jo Cox while shouting "Britain first", has been found guilty of her murder.

An Old Bailey jury took just over 90 minutes to convict loner Mair, 53, of what was described in court as an act of "sheer brutality and cowardice".

He murdered mother of two and Remain campaigner Mrs Cox, 41, as she arrived for a constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire, a week before the EU referendum.

The white supremacist, who gave no evidence in his defence, shouted "Britain first" as he fired three shots at his MP and stabbed her 15 times.

He gave no reaction as he was convicted on all counts.

The MP's family sat in silence in the packed courtroom as the verdicts were delivered.

As she lay mortally wounded in the street, the MP for Batley and Spen tried to protect her aides by urging them to leave her and save themselves.

During the trial Mrs Cox's family were left in tears as her constituency caseworker Sandra Major described the MP's selfless response as she came under attack from Mair.

She told jurors: "He was making motions towards us with the knife and Jo was lying in the road and she shouted out 'get away, get away you two. Let him hurt me. Don't let him hurt you'."

Her account prompted Mrs Cox's widower Brendan to tweet, "this is who Jo was".

Her colleague Fazila Aswat hit Mair with her handbag and pleaded with Mrs Cox to think of her two young children and get up and run.

Despite being too hurt to move away, Mrs Cox's thwarted Mair's initial attack as she shielded her head with her hands.

Mair briefly walked away to reload the adapted sawn-off .22 rifle before returning to shoot and stab her again.

Passer-by Bernard Kenny, 78, was stabbed as he tried to halt the onslaught by jumping on Mair's shoulders from behind.

The pensioner said: "Just as I got short of him he turned around and saw me. He shoved the knife in and it hit me in the stomach.

"The blood started pouring out between my fingers. I saw the blood and I thought 'Oh my God'."

Mr Kenny, who by coincidence shared his birthday with Mrs Cox, staggered back and "flopped" down on the steps of a sandwich shop.

Describing the aftermath, Ms Aswat said: "Jo was in my arms. It was probably only two or three minutes before the ambulance arrived but it felt like a lifetime."

The attack was captured on grainy CCTV and witnessed by 16 members of the public who travelled to the Old Bailey to give evidence.

They described the popping noise of Mair's gun and how he threatened to stab people if they got in his way.

Afterwards, Mair walked away as if he had "not a care in the world", the court heard.

Despite discarding some clothes, Mair was swiftly tracked down a mile away, still carrying his holdall containing the blood-splattered murder weapons.

They included a reproduction of a Fairbairn-Sykes "fighting dagger", a design first made in 1941 for British special forces and commando units, with a 17.4cm blade.

Two police constables rugby tackled Mair to the ground and in the scuffle, he cut his head.

Following his arrest, police uncovered a hoard of neo-Nazi literature at his council house in nearby Lowood Lane.

In pride of place on a bookshelf was a golden Third Reich eagle ornament with a swastika emblazoned on the front.

Mair, who had a teaching qualification and a Kirklees college student card, was a frequent visitor to Birstall and Batley libraries.

An investigation of his use of library computers exposed Mair's interest in far right, anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi politics in Britain and abroad.

Not only had he researched Mrs Cox, Mair had also looked up another Yorkshire-based Remainer MP, former Tory foreign secretary William Hague.

Two days after the killing, Mair was brought before Westminster magistrates under the terrorism protocol.

When asked to confirm his name, the defendant, described by neighbours as a shy loner, said: "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain".

He has refused to answer to the charges against him and not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf to murder, grievous bodily harm to Mr Kenny and possession of the gun and dagger.

Having opted not to give evidence in the trial or put forward any positive defence, he was found guilty on all the charges.

Prosecutor Richard Whittam QC told jurors the murder brought out the best in Mrs Cox, her aides and the general public who tried to help - in stark contrast with the killer.

Mr Whittam said: "The sheer brutality of her murder and the utter cowardice of her murder bring the two extremities of humanity face to face."

Online Editors

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