London: A Nazi fanatic and far-right extremist was today sentenced to life by a British court after he was found guilty of the "planned and pre-meditated murder" of Labour MP Jo Cox during the Brexit campaign.
Thomas Mair, who believed in white supremacy and had Nazi material stocked in his home, repeatedly shot and stabbed Cox during the EU referendum campaign.
Mair was convicted by a jury of murdering the 41-year-old mother-of-two outside her West Yorkshire constituency surgery on 16 June, a week before the UK’s referendum in favour of Brexit on 23 June.
The 53-year-old, dressed in a dark suit and blue tie, remained impassive as the verdicts were read out, after an hour of deliberations on Wednesday. The trial judge, Justice Wilkie, said the murder was carried out to "advance a political cause of violent white supremacism, associated with Nazism".
"It is evident from your internet searches that your inspiration is not love of country, it is an admiration for Nazis and similar anti-democratic white supremacist creed," he told Mair.
The judge said he had concluded the offence was so exceptional that it has to be marked with a whole life sentence, which means Mair can only be released by an exceptional order by the UK’s home secretary.
The killer had spent the weeks leading up to the murder researching far-right extremists including the Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik.
He also read material on the murder of MP Ian Gow by the Irish Republican Army in 1990 as part of compiling a dossier on Cox, a campaigner for the Remain camp in the EU referendum. After the guilty verdict, Brendan Cox paid tribute to his wife and said the family had "no interest in the perpetrator."
"We only feel pity for him… we are here because we want to tell you about Jo. What she was and what she meant to us," he said.
Cox is also survived by her two young children, aged five and three.
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 pre-meditated crimes were nothing less than acts of terrorism designed to advance his twisted ideology."
Earlier, the murder trial had heard how Mair shouted "Britain first, this is for Britain" over Cox's body after shooting her three times and inflicting 15 stab wounds. "This was a cowardly attack. He shot her in the head, which was followed by a brutal assault with the dagger.
Despite the element of surprise, he failed in his first attempt. Perhaps he underestimated her tenacity and courage," prosecutor Richard Whittam said in his closing speech. "The sheer barbarity of her murder and the utter cowardice of her murder bring the two extremities of humanity face to face," he added.
First Published On : Nov 23, 2016 19:44 IST