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'Killer' of MP Jo Cox shouted 'Britain First' as he attacked her, court told

By Emily Pennink

Published 15/11/2016

Thomas Mair (artist’s impression)
Thomas Mair (artist’s impression)
Jo Cox
Jo Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater and mother Jean Leadbeater arrive at court for the first day of the trial of Thomas Mair, who is accused of the terror-related murder of the Labour MP

A far-right extremist screamed "This is for Britain" when he killed MP Jo Cox in a "cowardly" attack at the height of the EU referendum campaign, a court has heard.

Gardener Thomas Mair (53) allegedly repeatedly shot and stabbed the Labour politician 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.

As she arrived, Mair launched his "cowardly" gun and knife attack, Mr Whittam said.

Mrs Cox was shot three times and suffered 15 stab wounds, jurors were told.

Mair was allegedly heard by a number of witnesses to shout 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.

Bernard Carter-Kenny was stabbed once by Mair with the same knife that he used to stab Mrs Cox (41), the prosecutor said.

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

Mr Whittam told jurors that Mair carried out his "pre-meditated murder" for an ideological cause. Items found at Mair's home in Lowood Lane, Birstall, showed he had "strong political and ideological interests", Mr Whittam said.

On June 13, he looked at the Twitter and Wikipedia pages for Mrs Cox, and the Wikipedia page for Conservative Ian Gow, whose IRA killing made him the last sitting MP to be murdered until that point, jurors were told. He had also researched far-right politics and articles on using guns.

On the morning of the killing, Mair was seen by a neighbour leaving his home wearing a white baseball cap, green jacket and dark trousers. Jurors were shown more CCTV footage of him making his way along the road. Mrs Cox arrived for her surgery at 12.50pm. Mair launched his attack two minutes later in front of shocked passersby.

Mr Whittam described it as a "dynamic, fast-moving and shocking incident".

Shelly Morris, who was the first to call 999, reported hearing "a loud bang like a popping sound" and "a loud piercing scream", jurors were told.

She allegedly saw a man with a large steak knife with a jagged blade, which he wielded in a "stabbing motion".

The attacker stood over a figure and fired a gun twice, according to her account.

Fazila Aswat, the MP's manager, saw Mair come up behind the MP and stab her, then shoot her with the gun.

He proceeded to attack Mrs Cox and Mr Carter-Kenny with the knife before firing again at the politician, Mr Whittam said.

Ms Aswat hit Mair repeatedly with her handbag but was forced to retreat. She allegedly heard the defendant shouting: "This is for Britain, Britain will always come first."

Senior caseworker Sandra Major heard him say "we're British independence" and "Keep Britain independent", jurors were told.

Mair denies Mrs Cox's murder, several weapons offences and causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Mr Carter-Kenny.

Belfast Telegraph

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