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Jo Cox death: Thomas Mair, accused of murdering MP, gives name to court as 'death to traitors, freedom for Britain'

Thomas Mair tells Westminster Magistrates' Court: 'My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain' 

Adam Lusher
Saturday 18 June 2016 17:03 BST

The man charged with murdering Jo Cox has given his name to magistrates as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain”.

As he stood in the dock at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, 52-year-old Thomas Mair refused to give his correct name to the court and remained silent when asked his address and date of birth.

Thomas Mair (centre) at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London (PA) (PA/Elizabeth Cook)

Mrs Cox, 41, died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency surgery in Birstall, near Leeds, on Thursday.

Mair, of Birstall, is charged with murder, grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of an offensive weapon.

After being taken to the court in a prison van, Mair was led from the basement cells for a short, preliminary court appearance, presided over by Deputy Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot. He appeared in the dock wearing a grey jumper, tracksuit bottoms and black shoes.

Mair was not required to enter a plea, and his lawyer, Keith Allen, said there was no indication of what plea would be given. He also told the court an application was made for legal aid.

Cameron, Corbyn in Cox tribute

Ms Arbuthnot ordered that he be remanded in custody until his next appearance at the Old Bailey on Monday.

He will be held at Belmarsh Prison, and Ms Arbuthnot suggested that a psychiatric report should be prepared, saying: "Bearing in mind the name he has just given, he ought to be seen by a psychiatrist."

During the hearing, it emerged that, as he was arrested, Mair claimed to be “a political activist”.

Prosecutor David Cawthorne from the counter-terrorism division of the Crown Prosecution Service gave the court an account of the events surrounding Mrs Cox’s death.

The court heard that at around 12.45pm, after Mrs Cox got out of her vehicle in Market Street, Birstall, a man approached and began attacking her with a knife.

Bernard Kenny, 77, who was waiting in his car after dropping his wife off to visit the library, went to Mrs Cox's aid and tried to save her, but was himself stabbed and forced to retreat to a sandwich shop to seek cover.

Mrs Cox was then repeatedly stabbed, shot three times as she lay on the ground, and then stabbed again as she fought for her life.

As she was assaulted, the attacker is believed to have said: "Britain first, keep Britain independent" and "Britain always comes first, this is for Britain".

Mrs Cox died at 1.48pm.

Mair was arrested at 1.25pm in Risedale Avenue, about a mile from the scene, by two officers who saw a white man wearing a black blood-smeared baseball cap and carrying a black holdall.

They tackled him to the ground, and as he was detained he was heard to say, "I'm a political activist." He told police he had a knife in his pocket.

Searching his trouser pockets, officers instead found a plastic bag containing what appeared to be a large number of bullets.

They also found a single-barrel firearm in the bag, as well as a magazine and a number of rounds. There was also a bloodstained mobile phone, a blood-stained dagger and a black wallet.

A search of Mair's house found material relating to far right ideology and white supremacy groups, as well as newspaper articles relating to Mrs Cox.

After Mrs Cox's death, campaigning in the EU referendum was suspended.

In a show of political unity, the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition travelled to Ms Cox’s West Yorkshire constituency to pay tribute to the MP alongside her constituents.

MPs, who had been on a special recess ahead of the EU vote, will return to the House of Commons on Monday to pay their respects. Referendum campaigning was suspended for a second day yesterday.

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