By Adam George
Last week Thomas Mair was jailed for life after being found guilty of the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox. The 53-year-old shot and stabbed the mother-of-two to death in her West Yorkshire constituency on 16 June, a week before the EU referendum vote.
It has been determined that Mair killed Cox for “political and/or ideological reasons” and he had researched “far-right material” in the weeks leading up to the killing. Mr Mair told police officers “I am a political activist” upon his arrest, the court heard. Prosecutors said Mair was motivated by hate and his crimes were “nothing less than acts of terrorism”.
The judge gave him a whole life tariff, saying he was likely to spend the rest of his life in jail. He said the offence was so exceptional that Mair could only be released by a secretary of state. Mair, dressed in a dark suit and blue tie, remained impassive as the verdicts were read out, after just over 90 minutes of deliberations.
Mair decided not to enter a plea provided the court with no evidence in his defence at the trial. However, before sentencing, Mair asked to speak to the courtroom. The judge turned down this request, saying he had already had an opportunity.
Addressing Mair, Mr Justice Wilkie said: “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.”
Mair’s inspiration was not love of country but admiration for Nazism, the judge said.
“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.”
He claimed that Mair did not have the courage to acknowledge what he had done and forced Mrs Cox’s family to relive the events.
He said an aggravating feature was the weeks of planning in which Mair researched Mrs Cox, a past assassination of a serving MP and matricide, knowing she was the mother of young children.
The judge described Mrs Cox as “a wonderful mother, daughter, sister, partner, and companion”.
He said her generosity of spirit was “evident in the selfless concern she had for others, even when facing a violent death”, referring to Mrs Cox’s plea to her assistants to get away and save themselves, as she lay dying in the street.
A worrying fact about this killing is the amount of support that Mair has received on social media since the murder. In the aftermath of the murder of MP Jo Cox, more than 50,000 tweets celebrated her death congratulating her killer, Neo Nazi Thomas Mair.
Tweets describing Mair as a “hero” and a “patriot” were sent in the aftermath of her murder from 25,000 accounts, according to a report on cyber hate speech.