A neo-Nazi was handed a whole life sentence for the murder of MP Jo Cox and told by her widower that it was the “most incompetent and self defeating” act of terrorism.
A jury deliberated for just over 90 minutes to find Thomas Mair guilty of killing the 41-year-old mother of two as she arrived for a surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire.
Mair, 53, shouted “Britain first” as he fired three shots at Remain campaigner Mrs Cox and stabbed her 15 times on the afternoon of 16 June, days before the EU referendum.
Following the conviction, her widower Brendan Cox told the packed Old Bailey courtroom: “We are not here to plead for retribution.
“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. The killing of Jo was in my view a political act, an act of terrorism.”
But he said it had been a “most incompetent and self-defeating” act, as it had led to communities pulling together and “allowed millions to hear a voice instead of silencing a voice”.
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”.
He said in a statement that he would do the same thing again as it was “the right thing to do”, even though his actions were not enough to save Mrs Cox.
Mair, originally from Kilmarnock, was silenced by trial judge Mr Justice Wilkie who refused his request to address the court before he was sentenced. The judge paid tribute to Mrs Cox’s “generosity of spirit” as she tried to help others - even as she was facing a violent death.
To an impassive Mair, he 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.
“You are no patriot. By your actions you have betrayed the quintessence of our country, its adherence to parliamentary democracy.”
Mrs Cox’s family hugged the prosecution team and wiped away tears as they left court.
Outside, Detective Superintendent Nick Wallen said: “Jo Cox championed the democracy and inclusivity of this country and for that she paid the ultimate price.”