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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

Jack Coulson has been detained in a young offender institution after committing a terror offence (Image: South Yorkshire Police

Jack Coulson has been detained in a young offender institution after committing a terror offence (Image: South Yorkshire Police

A teenager from Mexborough has been sentenced to more than four and a half years behind bars after downloading instructions on how to make bombs and extreme right-wing propaganda.

Jack Coulson, aged 19, of Roman Gardens, pleaded guilty to possessing a document or record for terrorist purposes at Leeds Crown Court on Monday, July 16.

The charge followed his arrest in January this year as part of an investigation by Counter Terrorism Policing North East and South Yorkshire Police.

An examination of Coulson’s mobile phone revealed he’d downloaded information on how to obtain and mix explosives and how to manufacture pipe bombs and other explosive devices.

It uncovered a wide range of extreme right wing material and propaganda, including racist and anti-Semitic imagery.

His search history also indicated an interest in National Action, Nazism and White Jihad.

Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson of Counter Terrorism Policing North East said: “Jack Coulson was in possession of disturbing and potentially dangerous material, which indicated an extreme right wing mind set and an interest in home-made explosives.

“He hadn’t come across this material by chance, but had actively searched for it and downloaded it. While no evidence was found to suggest Coulson was planning to act on this information, the combination of this material and his ideology is very concerning.

“This case also highlights the dangers of material that is readily available on the Internet, material that could be misused, or used for a terrorist purpose. Searching for and storing information of this nature has the potential to put the safety of others at risk will not go unprosecuted. In the wrong hands it could have serious consequences.”

Sheffield Star

Jack Coulson, 19, admitted to possessing a document or record for terrorist purposes between January 4 and January 19 this year, namely The Big Book Of Mischief

Jack Coulson, 19, admitted to possessing a document or record for terrorist purposes between January 4 and January 19 this year, namely The Big Book Of MischiefJack Coulson, 19, admitted to possessing a document or record for terrorist purposes between January 4 and January 19 this year, namely The Big Book Of Mischief

Jack Coulson, 19, admitted to possessing a document or record for terrorist purposes between January 4 and January 19 this year, namely The Big Book Of Mischief


A Nazi-obsessed teenager who kept a DIY bomb-making manual has been locked up for four years and eight months.

Jack Coulson, 19, admitted to possessing a document or record for terrorist purposes between January 4 and January 19 this year, namely The Big Book Of Mischief.

Prosecutors allege he downloaded the manual shortly after boasting to people in an approved hostel about wanting to kill a female MP, an incident which led to a police interview but no further charge.

Coulson, who has a previous conviction for making a pipe bomb found in his Nazi memorabilia-filled bedroom, claimed Hitler was his “hero,” a court heard.

Leeds Crown Court heard how the 60-page manual, downloaded to the defendant’s phone, seeks to “demonstrate the techniques and methods used in a number of countries to make hazardous devices”.

It was also claimed the document provides information on the chemicals needed to build weapons, as well as practical advice on detonators, handguns and rockets.

Further searches of his phone uncovered references to proscribed right-wing group National Action.

They also found audio recordings of people screaming in the aftermath of gunshots and internet searches for Timothy McVeigh, the American terrorist who carried out the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing which led to the deaths of 168 people.

Coulson, from Mexborough, South Yorkshire, was handed his sentence at Leeds Crown Court today, which he will serve in a young offenders institution.

David Temkin, prosecuting, claimed the teenager continues to hold “an active interest in far-right political views and violence”, and had a note in his house which read: “They are not going to cure me of my views.”

Mr Temkin added that, during a police interview, Coulson had described Adolf Hitler as his “leader” and said he identified as a “National Socialist”.

Jack Coulson has been detained in a young offender institution after committing a terror offence (Image: South Yorkshire Police

Jack Coulson has been detained in a young offender institution after committing a terror offence (Image: South Yorkshire Police

Coulson was also found guilty last year of making an explosive device but avoided being locked up.

Instead he was given a three year youth rehabilitation order- which was revoked today – and banned from using the internet.

At his first trial in February 2017, the teenager was said to hold “perverted views” and celebrated the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.

Jurors were told how a pipe bomb was found in a desk drawer in his Swastika covered bedroom on July 26 after police were alerted through suspicious Snapchat messages.

Prosecutors said one of these messages was a cartoon-like image of a mosque being blown up along with the words: “It’s time to enact retribution upon the Muslim filth.”

The teen told the court he had no intention of using the device which contained 19 grammes of explosive material he had gathered from sparklers.

An examination of Coulson’s mobile phone revealed he’d downloaded information on how to obtain and mix explosives and how to manufacture pipe bombs and other explosive devices.

It uncovered a wide range of extreme right wing material and propaganda, including racist and anti-Semitic imagery.

His search history also indicated an interest in National Action, Nazism and White Jihad, counter terrorism police said.

At Leeds Crown Court on Monday he was remanded in custody for the latest offence until his sentence hearing today.

Sentencing Coulson to four years and eight months in a young offenders institution, Judge Marson QC told the teenager on Thursday: “Time and time again you were a given a chance in relation to the previous offence.

“Help was repeatedly given, but you continued to breach the order that was given to you.

“You are unable to address the very real problems which you have in relation to your right-wing views.”

Discussing the teenager’s “extreme social isolation”, Kate O’Raghallaigh, defending, said: “His belief system and expressed opinions, unpalatable as they are, bear no relevance to the sentence that Your Honour should pass.”

She added there was no evidence that the defendant accessed the manual more than once or that he was intending to carry out any further offences.

Photo issued by North East CTU of Nazi memorabilia in the bedroom of teenager Jack Coulson

Photo issued by North East CTU of Nazi memorabilia in the bedroom of teenager Jack Coulson

Coulson was not named in reports of his pipe-bomb trial in early 2017 after the court banned his identification because he was 17 at the time.

The judge in that trial, Mr Justice Goss, said Coulson’s “perverted” views led to him proclaiming Thomas Mair, the man who murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, to be a hero.

Following the sentencing on Thursday, Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson, Head of Investigations at Counter Terrorism Policing North East, said: “Jack Coulson was in possession of disturbing and potentially dangerous material, which indicated an extreme right wing mind set and an interest in home-made explosives.

“He hadn’t come across this material by chance, but had actively searched for it and downloaded it.

“While no evidence was found to suggest Coulson was planning to act on this information, the combination of this material and his ideology is very concerning.”

He added: “This case also highlights the dangers of material that is readily available on the Internet, material that could be misused, or used for a terrorist purpose.

“Searching for and storing information of this nature has the potential to put the safety of others at risk (and) will not go unprosecuted. In the wrong hands it could have serious consequences.”

“While no evidence was found to suggest Coulson was planning to act on this information, the combination of this material and his ideology is very concerning.”

He added: “This case also highlights the dangers of material that is readily available on the Internet, material that could be misused, or used for a terrorist purpose.

“Searching for and storing information of this nature has the potential to put the safety of others at risk (and) will not go unprosecuted. In the wrong hands it could have serious consequences.”

Daily Mirror