UK

Jo Cox tried to shield face during shooting, jury hears

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

MP Jo Cox tried to shield her face with her hands as her killer shot her in the head, the Old Bailey has heard.

The 41-year-old Batley and Spen MP received 15 stab wounds and was shot three times in Birstall, West Yorkshire, on 16 June.

In statements read to the jury, ambulance staff told of how they gave the "unresponsive" MP emergency treatment at the scene, but she was pronounced dead at 13:48 BST.

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.

'Multiple stab wounds'

Pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd said that Mrs Cox had died "as a result of multiple stab and gunshot wounds".

Jurors were shown computer-generated images of the body as he gave evidence in court.

Dr Shepherd catalogued the stab wounds, including to the victim's chest cavity, stomach and hand, some of which he said had been inflicted with between "moderate and severe force".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd said that Mrs Cox died "as a result of multiple stab and gunshot wounds"

The court also heard there had been a wound to her left hand that was a "through and through" entry and exit bullet hole.

Prosecutor Richard Whittam QC asked: "It could be consistent with the hand being raised to the face and the bullet going through?"

Dr Shepherd replied: "Indeed. It could be with any of the injuries but I think it makes more sense that the hands were up covering the face and the bullet has gone through the right hand and... into the head."

He continued: "I concluded that she received multiple stab wounds to the back, front and left side of the chest and abdomen.

"The stab wounds had penetrated her heart, left lung, stomach and liver."

Bullets for 'hunting vermin'

The jury also heard evidence from a firearms expert, who said the bullets fired in the attack were more commonly used to kill vermin in a "humane" way.

A plastic bag found in a holdall when Mr Mair was arrested had 25 live .22 calibre rounds inside - 12 manufactured in Britain and 13 made in Germany.

Andre Horne, who has been an expert in his field for more than 20 years, said the bullets were designed to expand after being fired. This meant an animal was more likely to be killed straight away, rather than escaping with an injury that could lead to a slower death.

"[It] would be considered a more humane way of disposing of animals," he added. "They are most commonly used for hunting vermin, squirrels, rabbits and other small animals."

Mr Horne also said that the bullets could be legally owned in the UK with the correct firearms licence.

Jurors were shown the modified .22 calibre Weihrauch rifle found with the bullets in the holdall. The bolt-action gun had its shoulder stock and all but 4cm of its barrel removed, which Mr Horne said allowed it to be shot with one hand - but decreased the penetrating power.

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

Mr Whittam QC said to the expert: "In its long form it's a firearm and you could have had lawful possession of it with a certificate. But in its reduced size it is a banned weapon in this country altogether?"

Mr Horne replied: "That's correct, yes."

Kerry Versfeld, of the National Ballistics Intelligence Service, confirmed the casings found at the scene had been fired by the same rifle.

The court was also shown the dagger allegedly used to stab Mrs Cox, which Mr Horne said was most likely a "fake replica" of a Fairbairn-Sykes "fighting dagger" - a design first made in 1941 for British special forces and commando units.

Forensic scientist Hilary Parkinson, a DNA profiling and blood pattern analysis expert, told the jury that Mr Mair's and Mrs Cox's DNA were found on the gun and the dagger.

She said "blood spots" from Mrs Cox found on the gun showed that she had been very close to it and she said her findings were consistent with the dagger having been used to stab the Labour MP.

Ms Parkinson told the jury that blood drips suggested the initial assault was at the end of the ramp by the library and the end of the assault was by two vehicles in Market Street.

Her findings also suggested Mrs Cox had fallen and had possibly been crawling on the ground, she said.

The trial continues.


Who was Jo Cox?

Image copyright PA

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'


Related Topics

More on this story