Thomas Mair was armed with British-made hollow-point rifle bullets more commonly used to kill vermin in a “humane” way when he murdered MP Jo Cox, his trial heard.
A plastic bag found in a holdall when the alleged killer, 53, was arrested was found to contain 25 live .22 calibre rounds, jurors were told.
Twelve of the rounds were lead hollow-point cartridges made by British maker Eley, firearms expert Andre Horne told the Old Bailey trial. The other 13 were made by a German firm.
I walked towards the entrance and see the guy stabbing somebody ... behind the car.Taxi driver Rashid Hussain
Mr Horne said hollow-points were designed to expand after firing, adding: “The idea of that is to cause a greater wound size, especially when hunting, which would be considered a more humane way of disposing of animals.”
He explained this was because a bullet staying together and causing a smaller wound might allow it to escape, prolonging its suffering before it died.
He added: “They are most commonly used for hunting vermin, squirrels, rabbits and other small animals.”
Mr Horne said that the bullets could be legally owned in the UK with the correct firearms licence.
Jurors were also shown the modified .22 calibre Weihrauch rifle found in the holdall. The bolt-action gun had had its shoulder stock and all but 4cm of its barrel removed, Mr Horne said.
This, jurors heard, would have made the now 29cm (12-inch) weapon fireable with one hand, but decreased the penetrating power of the resulting shot - perhaps accounting for why the two shots to Mrs Cox’s head failed to penetrate her skull.
The original firearm requires a licence, but it would be totally banned in the UK in its adapted form, the court heard. The ammunition is also prohibited but can be possessed by someone with a licence following an application.
Prosecutor Richard 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, examined the gun, two casings, a spent cartridge and items recovered from the post mortem.
Testing “conclusively” determined that two cases from the scene and one found in nearby John Nelson Close were all fired by the rifle, she said.
Two bullets recovered were “consistent” with being fired by the gun, she told jurors.
The court was also shown the dagger allegedly used to stab Mrs Cox 15 times in the chest and abdomen.
Staff at the Royal Armouries were asked to help establish the provenance of the knife, which was thought to be a reproduction rather than an original.
Mr Horne said it was a Fairbairn-Sykes “fighting dagger”, a design first made in 1941 for British special forces and commando units, with a 17.4cm blade.
But he added: “It was determined that it was a fake replica and not one that was produced for the military.”
Blood stains that were a “billion-to-one” match to both Mrs Cox and Mair were found on the gun and dagger when they were tested, the court heard.
DNA expert Hilary Parkinson said “blood spots” from the Labour MP found on the gun showed that she had been very close to it.
A bloody handprint in the Labour politician’s blood was also found on a brown jacket prosecutors claim Mair dropped in a nearby street as he left the scene. His DNA was also found inside it, jurors heard.
Both their DNA was found on other items in the holdall. Mair’s was also found on the ammunition in the plastic bag, the court heard.
Mrs Cox’s blood was also found around a hole in a gilet worn by Bernard Carter-Kenny, 78, who was stabbed, allegedly by Mair, as he came to Mrs Cox’s aid during the fatal attack.
Ms Parkinson said: “The findings, taken together, are in keeping with Thomas Mair being involved in the incident which led to the death of Jo Cox and the injury to Bernard Carter-Kenny.”
The court heard how a scenes of crime officer took photographs of the area where Mrs Cox was killed and recovered two bullet casings.
A Flake wrapper, which Mair was suspected of eating chocolate from, was found in a bin by the nearby Vape bar, jurors were told.
Mair denies the charges against him. The trial continues.