MP Jo Cox told staff 'get away - let him hurt me,' court hears

Two of her staff have given evidence at the Old Bailey in London

MP Jo Cox told staff 'get away - let him hurt me,' court hears

File photo of British Labour MP Jo Cox | Image: Yui Mok PA Wire/PA Images

Jo Cox shouted "get away you two - let him hurt me", as she was repeatedly shot and stabbed, a London court has heard.

A 53-year-old gardener, Thomas Mair, is accused of attacking the UK Labour MP outside Birstall library in West Yorkshire, where she had been due to hold a constituency surgery.

Two of the 41-year-old's staff - senior caseworker Sandra Major and personal assistant Fazila Aswat - arrived with her in June.

Ms Major told the Old Bailey, where Mr Mair is on trial for murder, that she spotted a man in her peripheral vision walking past.

"He had a gun in his hand," she said.

"He raised his arm and shot her (Ms Cox) in the head. It was in the area of her temple.

"She fell backwards into the ground and there was blood pouring down her face."

Ms Major added that he was shouting something like "keep Britain independent" or "British independence".

Continuing her evidence, Ms Major said: "Fazila shouted 'get away from us, she has two little kids'. I was just screaming for help. I thought if some people came, he might go away.

"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'.

"He shot her twice more and then started stabbing her again. She was on the floor. She didn't get up again."

Ms Aswat told the Old Bailey she had urged Ms Cox to run away between attacks but the MP replied: "Fazila, I can't run, I'm hurt."

Ms Aswat added: "When he first came back I was standing over Jo, saying to her 'just think of (your children), you need to get up and run.'

"When he came back I started swinging my handbag.

"He swung his knife towards me, a couple of times, not to attack but because he wanted to get me away from her so he could attack her again.

"Jo was in my arms. It was probably only two or three minutes before the ambulance arrived but it felt like a lifetime."

Loaded sawn-off rifle and dagger found

The Old Bailey has also heard that Thomas Mair told police "it's me" and "I'm a political activist" as he was apprehended by police.

The court was told that a black holdall Mair was carrying contained a loaded sawn-off rifle, a bag of bullets, a dagger and a leaflet about the EU referendum.

Mair is accused of killing Ms Cox a week before the vote took place in June.

Giving evidence, PC Craig Nicholls said he and PC Jonathan Wright arrested Mair in Risedale Avenue, about a mile from where the MP had been attacked.

PC Nicholls told the jury that PC Wright leaned out of the patrol car and ordered Mair to put his bag down and show his hands "several times".

PC Nicholls said: "He dropped the bag to his right-hand side. He turned around and it was very quick, put his hands into his pockets.

"I just remember seeing loose change fall out of his pockets. At that point he put his arms out and said 'It's me'."

PC Nicholls added that as he and his colleague "rugby-tackled him to the ground", Mair said: "I'm a political activist."

PC Wright told the jury: "As we reached the male, his arms moved towards his belt line.

"I was fearful because he had a loose-fitting shirt and I could not see what he had underneath so we both took him to the ground.

"I asked him: 'What have you got on you?' and he told me 'I've got a knife in my pocket'."

PC Wright added: "I opened the bag to have a look in it. I saw a firearm."

Simon Russell Flint QC, defending Mair, suggested his client did not say "it's me", or claim to be a political activist, pointing out there was a lot of radio noise and the police car's engine was running.

But PC Nicholls replied: "He did say it."

A scenes of crime officer found a dagger and sheath inside the sports bag, the Old Bailey heard.

Jurors were also told that another blade in a gold-coloured cylinder was among some items in the road.

Mair denies murder, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of an offensive weapon.

In addition, he has also pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent to a 77-year-old man, Bernard Carter-Kenny, on the same date.

The trial continues.