Accused killer of UK lawmaker declines to defend himself in court

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 22, 2016 6:32 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - The man accused of murdering Member of Parliament Jo Cox a week before Britain's EU referendum has opted not to speak in his own defense at his trial, a London court heard on Tuesday.

Thomas Mair, 53, is accused of shooting and stabbing opposition Labour MP Cox, 41, on the street in the town of Birstall, part of her electoral district in northern England.

Prosecutors have told his trial that Cox's attacker had shouted something like "Keep Britain independent" and "Britain first" during the frenzied assault and that a swathe of material about Nazis and the far right were found at Mair's home in Birstall as well as information about Cox herself.

"We call no evidence for Mr Mair," his lawyer Simon Russell Flint told jurors at London's Old Bailey court.

Mair had declined to enter a plea at a pre-trial hearing in October, so a judge had recorded a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

However the court was told that when Mair appeared at London's Westminster Magistrates Court after being charged he had given his name as "death to traitors, freedom for Britain".

Judge Alan Wilkie said the jury could draw their own conclusions if he declined to offer evidence. Russell Flint said his client was aware of that.

"The sheer brutality of her murder and the utter cowardice of her murderer bring the two extremities of humanity face to face," lawyer Richard Whittam said as he summed up the prosecution case.

He said Mair's alleged "racist interest" was in stark contrast to that of Cox who advanced a fair and diverse society.

On Monday, the court heard police searching Mair's house had found Nazi materials including books and an eagle ornament bearing a swastika.

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Witnesses have said Cox suffered a ferocious attack when she arrived at the Birstall library to give an advice session to local residents, and that when apprehended by police Mair had said "It's me" and described himself as a political activist.

Summing up for Mair, Russell Flint said the attack on Cox was appalling and she had been "brutally and callously murdered".

He said it was up to jurors whether to return Mair to his "quiet and solitary existence or whether he will be forever remembered as the man who assassinated Jo Cox".

The trial continues.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)