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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

Jonathan Jennings also warned Jews they would ‘get the same treatment as Muslims’ if they did not behave in a series of online messages

Jonathan Jennings called for Muslims to be sterilised, gassed, or killed on sight

Jonathan Jennings called for Muslims to be sterilised, gassed, or killed on sight

A man has admitted posting a series of messages online calling for Muslims to be gassed and put on bonfires and boasting he would first in line to ‘Jo Cox’ Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Jonathan Damian Jennings also warned Jews that they would “get the same treatment as Muslims” if they did not behave and called for prominent EU remain campaigner Gina Miller to be hunted down and killed.

Jennings, from Brynamman, posted the messages on the American-based social networking site GAB, which styles itself as a “free speech” platform.

The 34-year-old pleaded guilty to 10 counts of publishing threatening written material to stir up religious hatred, sending an electronic communication conveying a threatening message, and sending an electronic communication of an offensive nature when he appeared at Swansea Crown Court via videolink from prison.

A plea hearing earlier this month had to be adjourned when the defendant took his clothes off, lay on the floor of his cell, and refused to enter the dock.

Catherine Richards, prosecuting, said during a series of postings on the GAB site Jennings wrote that it would be “a good idea” if there was a ‘burn a mosque’ day, that Muslims should placed on top of bonfires, gassed, or killed on sight, and that Hitler had been born 100 years too early.

Jennings also called for Muslims to be “forcibly sterilised and banned from preaching their evil creed” until they could be physically removed from the country.

The court heard he also boasted that he would be first in line to ‘Jo Cox’ Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn should he ever become Prime Minister – a reference to the Labour MP who was murdered by a far-right extremist in her Yorkshire constituency in 2016.

Jennings, of Heol y Gelynen, Brynamman, also called for EU remain campaigner Gina Miller to be hunted down and killed and in another message warned Jews that if they did not behave they would “get the same treatment as Muslims.”

David Singh, for Jennings, said a psychological report into the defendant “raised a number of concerns.”

Judge Keith Thomas said he had read the report and noted that the psychologist who wrote it had not diagnosed any particular mental disorder.

Sentencing was adjourned to August 8 and Jennings was further remanded in custody until that date.

Wales Online

A man from the village of Brynamman has admitted to 10 offences of stirring up religious hatred against Muslims by posting offensive messages on an Internet website.

Jonathan Damian Jennings, 34, admitted to urging people murder Muslims in a series of rants on the social network service, Gab.

One post included Jennings saying he would be first in line to “Jo Cox” Jeremy Corbyn if he ever became prime minister, referring to the murder of the MP in 2016.

Jennings, of Heol y Gelynen, appeared in Swansea Crown Court via a video link with Swansea prison where he is being held in custody.

During a hearing he admitted to posting messages saying it would be “a good idea” if there was a “burn a mosque day” and if Muslims were placed on top of bonfires.

He also admitted saying that EU remain campaigner, Gina Miller, should be hunted down and killed as well as making threats towards Jewish people.

His barrister, David Singh, said a psychologist had prepared a report on Jennings “which raised a number of concerns.”

Judge Keith Thomas said he had read the report and noted that the psychologist had not diagnosed any particular mental disorder.

Jennings has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced on 8 August.

ITV News

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