Pro-Brexit ‘terrorist’ jailed for life for murdering British lawmaker Jo Cox
A far-right extremist was on Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of release for murdering British MP Jo Cox a week before the European Union referendum in a “politically motivated” attack.
The court earlier heard that Mair shouted “Britain first” as he fired three shots at the lawmaker and stabbed her 15 times. Following the verdict, Cox’s husband Brendan called the murder “a political act and an act of terrorism”.
“We have no interest in the perpetrator, we only feel pity for him,” he added. “Jo was interested in everybody, driven not by her ego but her desire to help.”
Investigators found an extensive collection of books on German military history, the Holocaust and Nazi race theory and a statue of a bust of the eagle of Germany’s Third Reich when they searched Mair’s Birstall home. Mair had also accessed the Wikipedia page of “far right” online publication Occidental Observer and the Twitter and Wikipedia pages for Cox.
The court heard that Mair had asked the question “Is a .22 round deadly enough to kill with one shot to a human head?” during one internet search. The killing of Cox, who had defended immigration and refugee rights, shocked Britain and led to a three-day suspension in campaigning ahead of the EU referendum one week later.
Mair denied Cox’s murder, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of an offensive weapon, but was found guilty on all counts having refused to present any evidence in his defence. Cox’s parents and sister were in court.
Jurors at London’s Central Criminal Court deliberated for less than two hours before unanimously finding 53-year-old Mair guilty of firing three shots at Cox with a sawn-off .22 rifle and stabbing her 15 times.
The defendant did not visibly react as he was convicted of murdering Cox and wounding 77-year-old Bernard Kenny, a passer-by who was stabbed as he tried to stop the attack. Mair was also found guilty of having a gun and a dagger.
Cox had been a prominent voice arguing for Britain to remain in the EU, during a divisive and often angry referendum campaign that focused heavily on the issue of immigration.
At his first court hearing, Mair gave his name as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain”.
Prosecutors said his home was full of Nazi literature and memorabilia, and his computer revealed an interest in far right, anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi politics.
After the verdicts, Sue Hemming, head of special crime and counterterrorism at the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Mair has offered no explanation for his actions but the prosecution was able to demonstrate that, motivated by hate, his premeditated crimes were nothing less than acts of terrorism designed to advance his twisted ideology.”
In his closing speech, the prosecuting counsel, Richard Whittam QC, said Cox had been the victim of a cowardly attack: “The sheer brutality of her murder and the utter cowardice of her murderer bring the two extremities of humanity face to face.”
Additional reporting by The Guardian