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Stricken Jo Cox told aides 'don't let him hurt you' as she was attacked

Published 16/11/2016

Thomas Mair is accused of the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox.
Thomas Mair is accused of the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox.

Brave MP Jo Cox tried to protect her staff from a far right extremist by shouting out "get away you two - l et him hurt me" as he repeatedly shot and stabbed her, a court heard.

The family of the 41-year-old Labour politician wiped away tears as her colleagues described the moment she was killed outside Birstall library in West Yorkshire days before the EU referendum.

The Remain campaigner had been due to hold a surgery on June 16 when constituent Thomas Mair, 53, allegedly launched his politically motivated attack.

Senior caseworker Sandra Major arrived at the library with mother-of-two Mrs Cox and personal assistant Fazila Aswat in a silver Vauxhall Astra which was caught on grainy CCTV footage.

Giving evidence, she told how she spotted a man in her peripheral vision walking past them.

She said: "He had a gun in his hand. He raised his arm and shot her in the head. It was in the area of her temple.

"She fell backwards into the ground and there was blood pouring down her face."

He was shouting something like "keep Britain independent" or "British independence", she told jurors.

Ms Major said: "Fazila shouted 'get away from us, she has two little kids'. I was just screaming for help. I thought if some people came, he might go away.

"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'.

"He shot her twice more and then started stabbing her again. She was on the floor. She didn't get up again."

Ms Aswat told jurors that she panicked, shouted for help and even tried to hit Mair with her handbag.

She said: "In that instant our lives changed forever.

"There was a gun, there was a knife and she was on the floor. I can remember the movement, it was really fast so I can't say which part of the body was targeted."

As the MP lay dying, Ms Aswat said he stood up and shouted out: " Britain first, this is for Britain, Britain will always be first."

She said that she had told the MP to run away between attacks but Mrs Cox replied: "Fazila, I can't run, I'm hurt."

The witness went on: "When he first came back I was standing over Jo saying to her 'just think of (your children), you need to get up and run'.

"When he came back I started swinging my handbag. He swung his knife towards me, a couple of times, not to attack but because he wanted to get me away from her so he could attack her again."

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

Bernard Carter-Kenny, 78, told how he saw a knife man going "berserk" while he was waiting for his wife outside the library having bought bananas at the nearby market.

He was stabbed once as he tried to launch himself at the attacker from behind in an attempt to save Mrs Cox.

In a statement read in court, he said: "I immediately recognised her as Jo Cox, our local MP. The next thing I heard was a bang. I thought it sounded like a gun and I thought it can't be a gun. I thought it must be a car backfiring.

"I ran across. I was intending to jump on his shoulders. He had his back to me. I thought if I could jump on to the back I could take him down.

"I thought he was thumping her until I saw the blood. I saw he had a knife in his hands. It was what I call a dagger. The blade was about nine inches.

"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 Carter-Kenny said he staggered back while keeping his eyes fixed on the attacker then "flopped" down on the steps of a sandwich shop.

The statement was taken from Mr Carter-Kenny as he was recovering at Leeds General Infirmary.

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 also pleads not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Mr Carter-Kenny.

The trial at the Old Bailey was adjourned until tomorrow.

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