Jo Cox murder trial: Witness spoke of 'hell' in 999 call

Artist sketch of Thomas Mair Image copyright Julia Quenzler
Image caption Thomas Mair (centre) denies murdering MP Jo Cox

A witness dialled 999 after MP Jo Cox was attacked, saying: "There's hell on, it's chaos", the Old Bailey has heard.

Jurors were played a recording of the call by Darren Playford, who said: "He's stabbed and shot people."

They also heard from witnesses who described a man grabbing the Labour MP's hair, before stabbing and shooting her and shouting about Britain.

Mrs Cox, 41, was shot and stabbed in Birstall, West Yorkshire, on 16 June. Thomas Mair, 53, denies her murder.

Mr Mair, from Birstall, also denies grievous bodily harm with intent, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of an offensive weapon - a dagger.

Mrs Cox, a Remain campaigner, and her staff were due at a constituency surgery at Birstall library before joining an EU campaign stall later that afternoon - a week before the EU referendum.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Labour MP Jo Cox, 41, was shot and stabbed in Birstall, West Yorkshire, on 16 June

In the 999 call played to the jury, Mr Playford said: "He's shooting everyone."

The operator said: "Who's shooting everyone?"

He replied: "The gunman. Outside the library in Birstall."

He said the man had "stabbed a lady", adding: "He's following me at the moment. I'm just trying to get away from him. If you sent the helicopter up he's walking towards Huddersfield Road."

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Media caption999 call played to the jury: 'There's hell on. There's chaos'

Mr Playford then kept talking to the operator and kept them informed about the man going behind the Vaults pub and changing his clothes.

He said: "If you hurry up you'll get him. There's hell on. It's chaos, he's stabbed and shot people."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jo Cox's sister Kim Leadbeater (left) and mother Jean Leadbeater (right) arrive at the Old Bailey

Earlier, David Honeybell described how he saw the attack on his way to Mrs Cox's surgery.

He told the jury he was at the library to see Mrs Cox at her surgery when he saw a man with a knife, and a woman lying on the road.

"He just stood over her, cocked his gun and blasted her," he said. "Walked away like he didn't have a care in the world."

Taxi driver Rashid Hussain told the court he saw a man stab Mrs Cox five or six times.

He said he confronted the man near Birstall library after he heard screaming and shouting, saw him shoot at Mrs Cox and heard him shout "Britain First".

Mr Hussain said: "He said, 'Move back or I'll stab you.'

"I saw an Asian lady screaming, saying 'Jo'. She was the only person helping her. Jo's head was in her lap.

"He shot once then moved back and shot again. He was shooting behind the car where Jo was laid. He shouted Britain First."

Another witness, Clarke Rothwell, said he saw a man shoot a woman who was lying on the pavement outside Birstall library.

He said he heard the man say words like "This is for Britain".

'Popping sound'

Tracy Bywood said she was working at the Priestley Care Home when she saw a man beating a woman.

"I saw him wind his hand in her hair and drag her off the pavement," she said.

"It was horrible what I saw. She went down on the floor like a sack of potatoes. It was awful to see a lady get such animosity."

She said she was "fairly sure" she heard "someone shout Britain First".

"He was so peaceful and calm as if he hadn't done anything wrong," she said.

She told the jury she heard a "popping noise" and said: "I won't even buy Pringles any more, I can't handle the noise of the seal breaking."

Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption Police released this photograph of Thomas Mair as the trial began, as well as several images of weapons that were shown to the jury

Michaela Noble, a cook at the Priestley Care Home, said she could see a man dragging a woman off the kerb by her hair.

She said he was kicking her before he stabbed her several times.

Another witness, Julie Holmes, said she was working at her shop when she heard a loud popping sound from Market Street and raised voices.

She said she saw a man strike a woman, who fell down, and saw him stab the woman all over her body and around her head and neck.

The trial continues.

Who was Jo Cox?

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Jo Cox was a self-proclaimed "proud Yorkshire lass" whose work for charity took her around the world and whose political success led her to Westminster.

The 41-year-old mother-of-two was elected as MP for Batley and Spen in the 2015 election and increased Labour's majority to 6,051 (from 4,406 in the 2010 election).

She described herself as "proud and humbled" to be the Labour MP for the place where she was born.

Mrs Cox first worked in politics after graduating from Cambridge University in 1995, but then built a career working for charities including Oxfam, Save the Children and the NSPCC.

She was described by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as "a much loved colleague, a real talent and a dedicated campaigner for justice and peace."

Tireless campaigner turned political 'star'

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