Judge tells far-right Jo Cox killer: you are no patriot

Undated West Yorkshire Police photo of Thomas Mair
Undated West Yorkshire Police photo of Thomas Mair

Neo-Nazi Thomas Mair, who murdered MP Jo Cox while shouting “Britain first”, has been condemned by a judge as he was sent to jail for the rest of his life.

An Old Bailey jury took just over 90 minutes to convict the 53-year-old loner of murdering the 41-year-old mother-of-two and Remain campaigner as she arrived for a constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire, a week before the EU referendum.

MP Jo Cox's parents Jean and Gordon Leadbeater arriving at the Old Bailey, London.

MP Jo Cox's parents Jean and Gordon Leadbeater arriving at the Old Bailey, London.

The white supremacist, who gave no evidence in his defence, fired three shots at his MP and stabbed her 15 times.

He gave no reaction and looked straight ahead as he was convicted on all counts and then given a whole life term.

After the conviction, Mrs Cox’s widower, Brendan, told the court: “We feel nothing but pity for him that his life was so devoid of love and filled with hatred, his only way of finding meaning was to attack a woman who represented all that was good about the country in an act of supreme cowardice.”

Her murder was an act of terrorism, he said.

File photo dated 06/06/16 of Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery.

File photo dated 06/06/16 of Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery.

Passer-by Bernard Kenny, 78, who was stabbed as he tried to halt the onslaught by jumping on Mair’s shoulders from behind, described Mair’s actions as a “pure act of evil”.

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

The trial judge refused Mair’s request to make a statement in court.

Mr Justice Wilkie told Mair that Mrs Cox was the “true patriot”, not him.

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

Constituency caseworker Sandra Major had 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’.”

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.

Following his arrest, police uncovered 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.Mr Justice Wilkie said Mrs Cox’s death had been “both a personal tragedy” and a crime with “great public significance”.

He said her “generosity of spirit (was) evident in the selfless concern she had for others, even when facing a violent death”.

The judge told Mair that the loss he had caused her friends and family would be “unbearable”, and that she had demonstrated herself to be “a credit to herself, her community, and her country” through her work.

Mr Justice Wilkie said: “In the true meaning of the word she was a patriot.

“You affect to be a patriot. The words you uttered repeatedly when you killed her give lip service to that concept.

“Those sentiments can be legitimate and can have resonance but in your mouth, allied to your actions, they are tainted and made toxic.”

The judge told Mair his inspiration was not from “love of country or your fellow citizens”, but was “an admiration of Nazism” and similar white supremacist ideas where “democracy and political persuasion are supplanted by violence”.

He added: “Our parents’ generation made huge sacrifices to defeat those ideas and values in the Second World War. What you did, and your admiration for those views which informed your crime, betrays the sacrifices of that generation.

“You are no patriot. By your actions you have betrayed the quintessence of our country, its adherence to parliamentary democracy.”