White supremacist convicted of murdering UK lawmaker

Associated Press

London — A white supremacist who shot and stabbed a pro-European U.K. lawmaker while shouting “Britain first” was convicted of murder by a jury on Wednesday.

Judge Alan Wilkie sentenced Thomas Mair to life without parole for killing Jo Cox, in what prosecutors called an act of terrorism.

The 41-year-old Labour member of Parliament was attacked in June outside a library as she prepared to meet residents of the area she represented in northern England.

The murder, a week before Britain’s referendum on European Union membership, shocked the country. Cox was the first British lawmaker killed in office in a quarter of a century.

Jurors at London’s Central Criminal Court deliberated for less than two hours before unanimously finding 53-year-old Mair guilty of firing three shots at Cox with a sawn-off .22 rifle and stabbing her 15 times.

The defendant did not visibly react as he was convicted of murdering Cox and wounding 77-year-old Bernard Kenny, a passer-by who was stabbed as he tried to stop the attack. Mair was also found guilty of having a gun and a dagger.

Cox had been a prominent voice arguing for Britain to remain in the EU, during a divisive and often angry referendum campaign that focused heavily on the issue of immigration.

At his first court hearing, Mair gave his name as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” Prosecutors said his home was full of Nazi literature and memorabilia, and his computer revealed an interest in far right, anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi politics.

Jurors were told that Mair had pleaded not guilty, but his lawyers presented no evidence in his defense.

Mair, who did not speak during his trial, asked to address the court after the verdict. The judge refused.

Wilkie said the murder had been carried out to advance a political cause “of violent white supremacism associated with Nazism.”

He said Mair pretended to be a patriot — but that Jo Cox was the true patriot.

Sue Hemming, head of special crime and counter-terrorism at the Crown Prosecution Service, said Mair’s crimes “were nothing less than acts of terrorism designed to advance his twisted ideology.”

Cox’s widower Brendan Cox told the court the family did not seek retribution against her killer.

“We feel nothing but pity for him that his life was so devoid of love and filled with hatred, his only way of finding meaning was to attack a woman who represented all that was good about the country in an act of supreme cowardice,” Cox said.