Jo Cox: Man jailed for 'terrorist' murder of MP

Thomas Mair has been jailed for life after being found guilty of the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.

The 53-year-old shot and stabbed to death the mother-of-two in Birstall, West Yorkshire, on 16 June, a week before the EU referendum vote.

Mair shouted “Britain First” in the attack, but the judge said the true “patriot” was Mrs Cox, not Mair.

Prosecutors said Mair was motivated by hate and his crimes were “nothing less than acts of terrorism”.

Mair was also found guilty of having a firearm with intent, causing grievous bodily harm with intent to 78-year-old Bernard Kenny, who tried to help the MP, and having an offensive weapon, namely a dagger.

Mair, dressed in a dark suit and blue tie, remained impassive as the verdicts were read out, after one hour of deliberations.

He had not entered a plea and chose not to give evidence in his defence at the trial.

Before sentencing, Mair asked to speak to the courtroom but the judge declined, saying he had already had an opportunity.

Mrs Cox’s husband Brendan said he was not there for “retribution” and felt “nothing but pity for” Mair, in a statement read out to the Old Bailey.

Speaking outside court, he said his wife’s killing was an incompetent and self-defeating act of terrorism that was driven by hatred but instead created an outpouring of love.

His family would not respond to hatred with hatred, he said, and Jo’s ideas and values would live on in her children, and family.

In sentencing, Judge Mr Justice Wilkie described Mrs Cox as a wonderful mother, sister, daughter and companion, with a generosity of spirit that was apparent even when faced with a violent death.

Thomas Mair: The man who murdered MP Jo Cox

Brendan Cox: ‘Jo strengthened, not silenced’

Mair’s inspiration was not love of country but admiration for Nazism, the judge said, which was a betrayal of our parents’ generation’s huge sacrifices during World War II.

He said Mair had not the courage to acknowledge what he did and forced Mrs Cox’s family to relive the events.

Judge Mr Justice Wilkie said the murder was carried out to advance a political cause of violent white supremacism, associated with Nazism.

He said the aggravating feature was the premeditation and planning over weeks, in which he researched his intended victim, the past assassination of a serving MP and matricide, knowing Mrs Cox was the mother of young children.

The judge sentenced Mair to life imprisonment, with a whole life term.

He said he had concluded that the offence was so exceptional that Mair could only be released by the home secretary.

Mrs Cox’s parents, Jean and Gordon Leadbeater, and her sister, Kim, were also in court for the verdicts.

Kim Leadbeater said her family were relieved that the process was over after a difficult few months.

“There may have been one act of extreme cowardice on that day, but there were acts of extreme bravery,” she added.

The Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement: “Mair has offered no explanation for his actions but the prosecution was able to demonstrate that, motivated by hate, his pre-meditated crimes were nothing less than acts of terrorism designed to advance his twisted ideology.”

The CPS said it worked closely with police to build a strong case, and commended a number of “brave” eye witnesses who gave evidence.

Det Supt Nick Wallen, of West Yorkshire Police, said Mair was a “cold-blooded killer” who lived a solitary lifestyle, with no social circle and had never come to the notice of the police before.

He said nothing could ever excuse the evil and the horror that he brought to the small town of Birstall.

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