Man wielding hunting knife threatened to “Jo Cox” MP after his benefits were cut

Mark Beneke threatened to kill Helen Jones Labour MP for Warrington North

A man wielding a hunting knife threatened to kill an MP saying he would “Jo Cox her” after his benefits were cut.

Mark Beneke, 49, ranted at social workers and demanded to know where Helen Jones , Labour MP for Warrington North, held surgeries.

The unemployed alcoholic yelled: “It’s people like her who have put people in this position. I’m going to go there and Jo Cox her.”

Judge Andrew Menary, QC, said: “That was a particularly sinister threat, given the tragic circumstances in which Jo Cox MP herself lost her life.

“It was designed to be shocking, it was shocking and you reinforced that threat at the time by picking up a hunting knife – a fearsome weapon.”

Labour MP Jo Cox, 41, died after being shot and stabbed ahead of a constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire in June 2016.

Far-right terrorist Thomas Mair was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with a whole life order.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Beneke was made redundant due to a back injury and had problems managing his benefits and “coping with life”.

Social workers Myra Chester and Barrie Heap went to his home with a food parcel and to talk about his financial difficulties on August 2 this year.

Christopher Taylor, prosecuting, said Beneke referred to a text message from the Department for Work and Pensions, which asked him to access his account.

Beneke said: “I’ve been summonsed like a dog. I’m not putting up with it, they’ve gone too far now.

“I don’t want to be here but if I’m going, I’m taking someone with me. They have pushed it too far this time, the f***ing c***s.”

After referencing Jo Cox, Beneke picked up a serrated “survival” knife, as frightened Mr Heaps and Ms Chester backed away.

He said: “I’m sorry, I know you’re just trying to help, it’s not your fault.”

The pair reported the incident and when police arrived they discovered an arsenal of weapons, including three axes and more knives.

Beneke told officers he had a “hatred” for Mrs Jones “because she is an MP” and that Mrs Cox “meant nothing to him”.

Mr Taylor said: “He said he knew she was murdered by a man because she was trying to take his home from him.

“He was asked for his thoughts on her and said he didn’t care. He said he wouldn’t deny that he wanted Helen Jones dead.”

Ms Chester was left distressed, had to take time off work and is now considering looking for another job.

Beneke, of Grasmere Avenue, Orford, was found guilty of making threats to kill and admitted possessing cannabis.

He has four previous convictions for four offences, including dishonesty and criminal damage, but was last convicted in 2003.

Jonathan Duffy, defending, said Beneke’s difficulties were “the catalyst for his rant”.

He said he accepted becoming “extremely angry, emotional and frustrated” and he “momentarily lost control”.

Mr Duffy said: “He felt as though the recently imposed cuts to his benefits were an outrage in comparison to how those in the upper echelons of society were being treated.

“He said some very unkind, disparaging and inappropriate comments, hateful in many ways, and he is now ashamed.

“He never had any serious intention of causing Mrs Jones the anxiety and distress he caused her, let alone an intention to actually cause any violence towards her.

“He voted for her and is a long standing supporter of the Labour party.”

The lawyer argued Duffy – “a collector of knives” – had spent 19 weeks on remand and effectively “served his time”.

Judge Menary said it was a “peculiar incident” and that Beneke abused alcohol after losing his job.

He said there was no legitimate reason for him to have the hunting knife and ordered its forfeiture, along with the other weapons.

Judge Menary said the concern of Mrs Jones and the social workers was “perfectly understandable”.

However, he accepted the threats were “out of character” and noted Beneke was deemed to present a low risk of re-offending.

The judge said: “The feeling is it was the drink talking, rather than you.”

He handed him 18 months in prison, suspended for two years, a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement of up to 20 days and an alcohol treatment course.

Judge Menary also imposed a restraining order, preventing Beneke from contacting Mrs Jones.

Liverpool Echo

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