Hartlepool MP Iain Wright has paid tribute to his murdered colleague Jo Cox after her killer was handed an indefinite life sentence.
A jury at the Old Bailey took less than two hours to find neo-Nazi Thomas Mair guilty of killing the 41-year-old mother of two as she arrived for a surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire.
Jo was decent, dignified, hard working and passionate about helping people in her community.Iain Wright MP
Mair, 53, shouted “Britain first” as he fired three shots at Remain campaigner Mrs Cox and stabbed her 15 times on the afternoon of June 16, just a week before the EU referendum.
Iain Wright said Mrs Cox had been devoted to making life better for ordinary people: “Jo was decent, dignified, hard working and passionate about helping people in her community,” he said.
“In my mind, she was the essence of great British values. In contrast, her killer was no more than a murderous thug who was intent on shooting and stabbing a democratically-elected Member of Parliament on the streets of Britain and who has robbed two young children of their mother.
“What on Earth is British about that?”
The trial had heard how even as she lay mortally wounded in the street, the MP for Batley and Spen tried to protect her aides by urging them to leave her and save themselves.
Caseworker Sandra Major told jurors: “He was making motions towards us with the knife and Jo was lying in the road and she shouted out ‘get away, get away you two. Let him hurt me. Don’t let him hurt you’.”
Following the conviction, her widower Brendan Cox told the packed Old Bailey courtroom: “We are not here to plead for retribution.
“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.
“The killing of Jo was in my view a political act, an act of terrorism.”
But he said it had been a “most incompetent and self-defeating” act, as it had led to communities pulling together and “allowed millions to hear a voice instead of silencing a voice”.
Bernard Kenny, 78, who was stabbed as he tried to halt the onslaught by jumping on Mair’s shoulders from behind, described Mair’s actions as a “pure act of evil”.
Mair was brought before Westminster magistrates under the terrorism protocol two days after the killing.
When asked to confirm his name, he said: “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain”.
He refused to answer to the charges against him and not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf to murder, grievous bodily harm to Mr Kenny and possession of a gun and dagger.
Having opted not to give evidence in the trial or put forward any positive defence, he was found guilty of all charges.