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Unemployed gardener, 53, given whole-life sentence for murder of MP that judge said was inspired by white supremacism

An extreme rightwing terrorist has been sentenced to prison for the rest of his life for the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox after a seven-day Old Bailey trial in which he made no effort to defend himself.

Thomas Mair repeatedly shot and stabbed Cox in an attack during the EU referendum campaign in June. While attacking her he was saying: “This is for Britain”, “keep Britain independent”, and “Britain first”, the court heard.

The judge said Mair would have to serve a whole-life sentence due to the “exceptional seriousness” of the offence: a murder committed to advance a cause associated with Nazism.

Mr Justice Wilkie refused Mair’s request to address the court, saying he had already had opportunities to explain himself, and had not done so.

Cox, the judge told Mair, was not only a “passionate, open-hearted, inclusive and generous” person, but a true patriot. He, on the other hand “affected to be a patriot”.

“It is evident from your internet searches that your inspiration is not love of country or your fellow citizens, it is an admiration for Nazis and similar anti-democratic white supremacist creeds,” Wilkie said. “Our parents’ generation made huge sacrifices to defeat those ideas and values in the second world war. What you did … betrays those sacrifices.”

Mair had “betrayed the quintessence of our country, its adherence to parliamentary democracy”. By not having the courage to admit his crime, the judge added, he had forced the prosecution to prove their case in detail, which “no doubt deliberately”had increased the anguish of his victim’s family.

Mair struck on 16 June after Cox got out of a car in Birstall, a small market town in West Yorkshire that was part of her Batley and Spen constituency. He shot her twice in the head and once in the chest with a sawn-off .22 hunting rifle before stabbing her 15 times.

The MP died shortly afterwards in the back of an ambulance, despite emergency surgery. She was 41, and the mother of two children, then aged five and three.

Evidence quickly gathered by police, including books found at Mair’s home and an examination of his online activities, showed him to be obsessed with the Nazis, notions of white supremacy and apartheid-era South Africa.

He underwent an examination by a psychiatrist, who could find no evidence that he was not responsible for his actions as a consequence of poor mental health.

Mair was also found guilty of grievous bodily harm against a passerby, Bernard Carter-Kenny, a retired coal miner who was stabbed when he came to Cox’s aid, possession of a firearm with intent and possession of a dagger. The jury took just over 90 minutes to reach its verdicts.

Mair showed no reaction as the judge denied his request to address the court and was led to the cells. Brendan Cox, the MP’s grieving husband, watched as other family members hugged and wiped away tears.

Earlier, Mair had rolled his eyes as Brendan Cox read a statement to the court in which he paid tribute to his wife and said the family had no interest in her killer.

“We feel nothing but pity for him; that his life was so devoid of love that his only way of finding meaning was to attack a defenceless woman who represented the best of our country in an act of supreme cowardice.”

Speaking outside the Old Bailey after the verdicts, he added: “To the world, Jo was a member of parliament, a campaigner, an activist and many other things. But first and foremost she was a sister, a daughter, an auntie, a wife, and above all a mum to two young children who love her with all their being.

“All their lives they have been enveloped in her love, excited by her energy and inspired by her example. We try now not to focus on how unlucky we were to have her taken from us, but how lucky we were to have her in our lives for so long.”

He also thanked the hundreds of people – on the day of the murder, and the weeks that followed – for their bravery and compassion. “This has been Britain at its best – compassionate, courageous and kind. It’s given us great strength and solace.”

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said the murder was “an attack on democracy, and has robbed the world of an ambassador of kindness and compassion”.

Amber Rudd, the home secretary, said the murder was a “shocking and senseless” attack on the values of democracy and tolerance. “I am determined that we challenge extremism in all its forms including the evil of far-right extremism and the terrible damage it can cause to individuals, families and communities.”

After the verdicts, Sue Hemming, head of special crime and counter-terrorism 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.”

Following the verdicts, Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting, told the court that Mair had committed a terrorism offence when he murdered Cox, although the jury had not been told that he was regarded as a terrorist.

There were two reasons for this. Mair was charged with murder, which is a crime under common law and not an offence under counter-terrorism legislation; and the jury was only to be asked to decide whether or not Mair had committed the crime of murder. It was not asked to consider his motivation.

Prosecutors acknowledge privately that the febrile atmosphere in which the EU referendum campaign was waged appears certain to have contributed to Mair’s decision to murder his MP, but this played no part in their case. There was no need to refer to the referendum in order to establish his guilt.

The evidence against the 53-year-old unemployed gardener had been overwhelming. He lived in Birstall and witnesses to the attack included people who had known him all his life. The incident was also captured on CCTV, as was his escape.

Police later found that a library of far-right literature in his bedroom, including books on the Nazis and white supremacism. On top of the bookshelf was a gold-coloured Third Reich eagle with a swastika.

Examination of his browsing history revealed that he had been searching for material about the British national party, apartheid, the Ku Klux Klan, prominent Jewish people, Israel and matricide.

In his closing speech, Whittam 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,” he said.

Mair never admitted the offences, but nor did he deny them. When he appeared at the Old Bailey last month via videolink from Belmarsh prison in south-east London, he refused to enter a plea. He made clear that he could see and hear what was happening in court, but when asked how he pleaded, he stared down the camera and said nothing. During the trial he did not offer a defence.

As a consequence, not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf to all four charges, as required by law.

Each day during the trial, Mair remained immobile and impassive, staring straight ahead and rarely looking around. He used a notepad, but instead of making notes about the trial, he could be seen to be writing down the names of people in court whom he recognised: a TV journalist, an MP from a neighbouring constituency and a member of Cox’s family.

It was, an observer said, as though he was recording the identities of the people who had come to see him have his day in court.

Speaking from the witness box after the verdict had been announced Cox’s husband said Mair had failed. “The killing of Jo was in my view a political act, an act of terrorism,” he told the court. “But in the history of such acts it was perhaps the most incompetent and self-defeating. An act driven by hatred, which instead has created an outpouring of love. An act designed to drive communities apart which has instead pulled them together. An act designed to silence a voice which instead has allowed millions of others to hear it.

“Jo is no longer with us, but her love, her example and her values live on. For the rest of our lives we will not lament how unlucky we were to have her taken from us, but how unbelievably lucky we were to have her in our lives for so long.”

The Guardian

Police found 54 explosive devices from nail bombs to a booby-trapped cigarette packet at Terrance Gavan’s home



A BNP member who spent a decade building up a cache of weapons in a bedroom hideaway was jailed for 11 years today.

Bus driver Terrance Gavan manufactured highly dangerous firearms and explosives at the home where he lived with his mother in Batley, West Yorkshire.

Police discovered 54 improvised bombs including nail bombs and a booby-trapped cigarette packet, as well as 12 firearms.

The former soldier told detectives that he had “a fascination with things that go bang”, the Old Bailey heard.

But Gavan also had a “strong hostility” towards immigrants, the court heard, and planned to target an address he had seen on a television programme that he believed was linked to the 7 July bomb attacks in London.

He told police he was a BNP member and letters to him from the party, as well as a copy of its magazine Hope and Glory, were found at his home.

The court heard that handwritten notebooks were found. One note said: “The patriot must always be ready to defend his country against enemies and their governments.”

Gavan pleaded guilty to 22 counts including collecting information useful for terrorism and possessing explosives and firearms.

The Guardian

From 2010

Laura Heywood begged magistrates not to send her to custody but they were appalled by her ‘horrendous’ record

A woman who hurled racist abuse at takeaway staff and a police officer has been jailed despite begging magistrates to give her another chance.

Laura Heywood blamed her “abusive and controlling” boyfriend for the heavy drug abuse which led to her offending.

Appearing live via a video link from HMP New Hall, the 24-year-old pleaded with Kirklees magistrates not to hand her a custodial sentence after pleading guilty to a string of charges.

She told them: “I’m begging you to take this risk on me – please don’t send me to prison.”

But magistrates were unmoved to grant her request after hearing details of offences including her vile abuse of two takeaway workers – one a teenage boy- where she threw cans of drink at them.

The incident at Dixxi Express in Batley happened on May 4 last year.

Drunk Heywood was at the nearby bus station with a friend and they walked into the St James Street takeaway.

Prosecutor Alex Bozman said: “They were racially abusive to two staff members, describing them as ‘P**i b******s’.

“Cans were then thrown at both gentlemen, hitting them and the contents spilling all over their clothing.

“One of the staff members was 16 and shocked to be assaulted at his place of work as he’d never experienced anything like that before.

“The other victim said that he was angry and that it was an unprovoked attack and there was no reason why they’d been targeted.”

Police were called and caught Heywood and her friend trying to board a bus. Heywood was described as aggressive and refusing to leave the vehicle.

When she was finally put into the police van she directed racist abuse to a female officer during the journey, calling her a ‘black b****d’ and’ n****r’ and telling her: “You’d be used as a footstool.”

Mr Bozman said: “The officer found her attitude and insults rather vile and stated that nobody has the right or authority to aim abuse at her.”

Magistrates were told about another incident at Laurel Drive in Birstall on June 3.

The victim had parked her Ford Fiesta there to visit a friend when Heywood came out into the street carrying a bottle of fizzy drink.

She shouted: “Whose is this car?” and she replied that it belonged to her. Heywood responded: “I don’t give a f**k anyway, I’m going to put it through.” She then threw the bottle at the vehicle, causing a dent.

Heywood went on to damage a police vehicle on November 6 when they were responding to reports of a domestic incident at an address in Common Road in Batley.

As her boyfriend was arrested from the property she picked up an item and threw it at a marked police car, causing a dent in the vehicle.

Then on December 30 Heywood was caught stealing a bottle of wine from the Hanging Heaton Food Store.

She pleaded guilty to two charges of racially-aggravated assault, racially-aggravated harassment, two counts of criminal damage, theft from a shop, being drunk and disorderly in public, three charges of failing to surrender to court and committing a further offence while subject to a conditional discharge.

Her solicitor Paul Blanchard described her as having a Jekyll and Hyde personality, adding that alcohol she consumed at the time of the offences would have clouded her judgement.

He explained: “The background to her most recent offending is combined with a relationship she has formed and during the relationship she has become involved in the consumption of Class A drugs.

“She’s made some ridiculously bad decisions and doesn’t deal with situations well.

“She hasn’t dealt with her child being adopted and resorted to the consumption of alcohol to block out the reality of situations.

“She’s a lovely, lovely person but has got her demons which unfortunately at times come to the top.

“Something has to change but the only person who can change is Laura Heywood.”

Heywood read a letter to the court in which she pleaded with magistrates not to jail her.

She said: “I know I need to grow up and sort my life out. I just need some support.

“I’ve now got out of my controlling and violent relationship and I’m begging you to take this risk on me.

“I know I’ve got a long, hard journey but I know I can do it. Please let me prove you wrong and make my family proud.”

But bench chairwoman Kathryn Beney slammed her ‘horrendous record’ and said she and her colleagues felt that custody was their only option.

They jailed Heywood, of Laurel Drive in Batley, for a total of 24 weeks.

Upon her release she will have to pay £100 to both of the takeaway employees she assaulted and abused.

Huddersfield Examiner

Terence Gavan pleaded guilty to 22 charges

Terence Gavan pleaded guilty to 22 charges


A man who admitted making nail bombs at his West Yorkshire home has been jailed for 11 years.

Terence Gavan, 38, who the Old Bailey heard showed a strong hostility towards immigrants, was arrested by police in a raid at his home in May 2009.

The bus driver’s arsenal of weapons and explosives included home-made shotguns, pen guns and pistols.

Gavan, from Batley, also pleaded guilty to six counts of having or collecting documents useful in terrorism.

Sentencing Gavan, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said his case was “unique” because of his long and persistent manufacture of guns and explosives.

Gavan, who the court heard was a former member of the BNP, pleaded guilty to 22 charges at Woolwich Crown Court in November.

Police discovered 12 firearms and 54 improvised explosive devices, which included nail bombs and a booby-trapped cigarette packet, at the home Gavan shared with his mother.

He told detectives he had “a fascination with things that go bang”, the Old Bailey heard.

After the case, head of the North East Counter Terrorism Unit Det Ch Supt David Buxton said Gavan posed a significant risk to public safety.

“Gavan was an extremely dangerous and unpredictable individual,” he said.

“The sheer volume of home-made firearms and grenades found in his bedroom exposed his obsession with weapons and explosives.

“However, he was not simply a harmless enthusiast.

“Gavan used his extensive knowledge to manufacture and accumulate devices capable of causing significant injury or harm.”

A BNP spokesman would not comment on whether Gavan had been a member of the party.

But he told BBC News that Gavan’s offences were “serious” and the sentence given to him was “correct”.

BBC News

AN ENGLISH Defence League demonstrator who was at the forefront of a group which broke police lines has been jailed for 16 months.

Mark Doel became involved in violence at the demonstration in Hanley city centre on Saturday, January 23

Prosecutor Paul Spratt told Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court yesterday that at about 1.30pm, items were being thrown at police including glass bottles, cans and a smoke cannister.

“About 100 people had broken free from the group being cordoned to come round the rear of the police lines,” said Mr Spratt.

“A police dog handler became aware of a group of men at the rear of the police unit.

“He then saw the defendant run to the front and shout abuse at the officers.

“He (Doel) kicked out to the back of a slightly built female officer and punched her to her helmet, causing her to fall to the ground.

“She was later assaulted by another individual and was kicked and stamped on.”

The court heard the police dog took hold of the defendant. He kicked out and struck the dog and others tried to drag him back into the crowd.

But the dog maintained its grip and Doel was arrested.

In his police interview, he admitted being present at the demonstration but denied violent disorder and assaulting a police officer.

He pleaded guilty to affray at an earlier hearing.

The pleas were accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Peter McCartney, for the defence, said Doel was not a member of the EDL and visited the Potteries on the invitation of a friend.

He said the 43-year-old, who has numerous convictions for violence and disorder but none for 15 years, regrets getting into trouble.

“It was the first demonstration he has attended,” said Mr McCartney. “He came along. He did not intend to involve himself in violence, but the situation carried him along and he did get involved.”

Judge Granville Styler said an immediate custodial sentence had to be passed.

“This was a very serious matter,” the judge told Doel, a father-of-one from Primrose Hill, Batley, West Yorkshire.

“You travelled to Stoke-on-Trent and, I take the view, you travelled in order to take part in a demonstration. You consumed five pints of lager.

“You knew the police were having difficulties restraining an increasingly violent crowd.

“You were at the forefront of a breakaway group. You attacked a policewoman from behind and knocked her to the ground. It was an extremely dangerous situation. And it encouraged others to attack this officer while on the ground, and she was stamped on.

“It is clear to me you have not put your violent past behind you.”

Judge Styler said he would like the Chief Constable to commend the dog handler for his bravery.

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