Thomas Mair jailed for 'terrorist' murder of MP Jo Cox

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

Far right fanatic Thomas Mair has been handed a whole life term for murdering Labour MP Jo Cox.

Mair, 53, shot and stabbed the 41-year-old mother-of-two in the street in Birstall, West Yorkshire, as she arrived at the village library to hold her constituency surgery.

He also stabbed Bernard Carter-Kenny, 78, as he came to Cox’s defence.

Jurors at the Old Bailey took under an hour and a half to convict Mair, who had denied murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Carter-Kenny.

Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting, told the court following the verdicts that Mair had committed a terrorism offence when he murdered Cox, but added that it had not been necessary to prosecute him as a terrorist.

He was sentenced to a whole life term - meaning he will spend the rest of his life in jail.

Judge Alan Wilkie denied a request by Mair to speak after the verdict and told him: "You are no patriot. By your actions you have betrayed the quintessence of our country: its adherence to parliamentary democracy."

Her widower Brendan Cox spoke outside court, saying that her killer has committed an act of "terrorism" which had backfired to unite the country in grief.

Brendan Cox said he had seen Britain at its "compassionate, courageous and kind" best in response to the killing carried out by Thomas Mair.

Jo Cox's sister Kim Leadbeater said: "There may have been one act of extreme cowardice on that day but there were many acts of bravery, particularly from Fazila and Sandra and Bernard Kenny. We think about them often.

"Our focus now as a family is to look forward, we can begin to consider our own loss in our own way and in our own time."

Cox, a vocal Remain campaigner, had just got out of her car and was headed for her surgery on June 16 when Birstall resident Mair walked up and attacked her.

He stabbed the MP 15 times and shot her three times –including in the head - as she lay collapsed on the pavement and was trying in vain to defend herself by holding her hand to her to her face.

Eyewitnesses testified that Mair had shouted "This is for Britain" or “keep Britain independent” as he carried out the murder.

Mair and the weapons found

After attacking Cox and stabbing Carter-Kenny, Mair “coldly” walked away and was found a short time later by police officers a mile from the murder scene.

He told the arresting officers he was a "political activist,"and admitted having a gun, bullets and a knife inside his holdall bag.

The material found in his home Credit: West Yorkshire Police

At Mair’s home on Lowood Lane, police found Far Right materials, including a gold Nazi eagle emblazoned with a swastika, a double-page press cutting on Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik and a printout of a Wikipedia entry on the White Patriot Party.

Nazi history books on a bookshelf decorated with a Nazi eagle at Mair's house

Police also found a dossier on Cox in his home, including stories about her in newspapers and a printout of her biography from her website.

During his first court appearance, Mair gave his name his name as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”

At his trial, Mair chose not to give any evidence in his defence.

His lawyer, Simon Russell Flint QC, Simon Russell Flint QC,told the court Cox "was brutally and callously murdered and there is no issue or dispute about that."

MP Jo Cox's widower Brendan Cox arriving at the Old Bailey

He told the jury Mair had no previous convictions or cautions and urged the jury to carefully consider their verdicts on the case.

"You and you alone will determine whether Thomas Mair can return to his quiet and solitary existence or will be forever remembered as the man who assassinated Jo Cox," he said.

In his closing speech, prosecutor Richard Whittam QC told jurors that “the two extremes of humanity came face to face” when Mair launched his murderous attack on the popular and hardworking MP, whose killing shocked the country.

Even in her last moments, Cox "brought out the best of the people who were with her" he said, with two members of her staff and Birstall residents risking their lives to come to her aid.