The murder, and we can now call it murder officially, of Jo Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen on 16th June 2016 shocked the UK and the world. It was, in effect, a political assassination which is not something that, fortunately, we see very often.
On 23rd November 2016 Thomas Mair was convicted of his murder.
Following a successful stint as head of policy and advocacy at Oxfam GB, Jo Cox was elected to Parliament in 2015 General Election.
On 16th June 2016 she was attending a scheduled constituency event when she was attacked by Thomas Mair, a 52 year man armed with a knife and a shotgun.
Ms Cox was stabbed by Mr Mair and fell to the ground. Mr Mair then shot and stabbed her further. A bystander, 77 year old Bernard Carter-Kenny tried to intervene and was stabbed.
Although he survived, Ms Cox sadly died later in hospital.
During the attack, Mr Mair was heard to be shouting ‘Britain First’ – the name of a far right political party.
Mr Mair was assessed as sane, and not suffering from any mental issues that would reduce his culpability to manslaughter. He refused to co-operate with the Court to the extent of not entering a plea, and so a Not Guilty plea was entered on his behalf. His trial started at the Old Bailey on 16th November 2016.
He did not put forward any defence, so it was perhaps not a great surprise when he was found guilty by the jury in double quick time of the murder of Ms Cox, the wounding with intent of Mr Carter-Kenny, possession of a firearm with intent, and possession of an offensive weapon (the knife).
The only sentence for murder is one of life imprisonment. We have a factsheet that explains how the Judge will approach the last of setting a tariff (the minimum period of time that Mr Mair will have to serve in prison before he could be considered for release).
We said that it would appear to have been “a murder done for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause“, which would normally attract a whole life tariff. The reason for this being seen in the words shouted by Mr Mair when he killed Ms Cox.
We have the sentencing remarks which, as always, bears reading in full. The Judge (Wilkie J) set out his reasons very clearly for finding that “the murder was carried out to advance a political cause of violent white supremacism, associated with Nazism” and was one which required a whole life tariff, notwithstanding that Mr Mair was a man of good character.
In the circumstances of this case, we would not expect any appeal against either conviction or sentence to be successful.
This means that Mr Mair will never be released, unless on compassionate grounds at the end of his life.
This post will be updated throughout the day as more information becomes available