Justice

The trial of Jo Cox’s alleged killer just took a staggering turn

Thomas Mair, who is accused of murdering the Labour MP Jo Cox, has opted to not give evidence at his trial, a court heard on Tuesday 22 November.

Jurors by his lawyer Simon Russell Flint QC, that Mair had declined to give evidence and will not appear as a witness during the trial.

The judge, Justice Wilkie, asked Flint:

Have you advised your client that this is his opportunity to give evidence, and if he declines to do so then the jury may draw such inferences as they feel to be appropriate from his silence?

“He has been so advised” replied Flint.

He then added it was the “defendant’s right not to give evidence” and warned the jury not to assume he was guilty.

Flint said in his closing speech that it was the jury’s duty to decide whether Mair was responsible to the death of the Labour MP, beyond any reasonable doubt, and said:

It is you and you alone who have been charged with the responsibility in determining what are the true verdicts in each of the counts on the indictment.

Flint also pointed out that Mair had no criminal record and was an unemployed, quiet gardener from Birstall.

The alleged far-right extremist had a stash of Nazi memorabilia in his home, the jury were previously told, and is accused of shouting “Britain First” during the attack against the Labour MP.

Cox suffered 15 stabs wounds inflicted by a WWII-style dagger, and three gunshot injuries.

In his closing speech, prosecutor Richard Whittam QC told the jurors:

At 1.48pm on 16 June in Market Street outside the public library in Birstall, the democratically elected MP for Batley and Spen, Jo Cox, was murdered as she carried out her duties on behalf of her electorate. Constituents were waiting to speak to her in the library.

But despite having an element of surprise “Mair failed to kill Cox in his first attempt” Whittam said. “Perhaps he underestimated Jo Cox’s tenacity and courage”, the court heard.

Whittam then added that Mair has the right “to sit back and say nothing” but the weight of evidence can only suggest that he is Cox’s murderer.

Earlier, the court heard a written statement from Labour MP Stephen Kinnock who described Cox as a “good family friend”:

She was an incredibly well liked and popular person and always found time for people despite her busy life.

He described her as an internationalist who only wanted to protect the poor and disadvantaged, and was not interested in meaningless party political point scoring. Cox, he said, was incredibly liked and popular amongst both her constituents and colleagues.

The court also heard that Mair remained silent during the three and half hours of police interviews, the day after Cox was killed.

Since being arrested, Mair only spoke once so far.  It was during his first court appearance when he said “death to traitors – freedom for Britain” when asked his name.

Mair declined to enter pleas when he appeared at the Old Bailey for preliminary hearing last month. As a result, not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf.

Mair is accused of shooting and stabbing the mother-of-two as she arrived at Birstall Library for a surgery on the afternoon of 16 June just a week before the EU referendum.

The trial continues.

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