Jo Cox murder trial: 'He shot her at close range and shouted 'Britain First' - witness tells court

Jo Cox
Jo Cox

The woman who cradled dying Jo Cox in her arms has spoken of the agonising moment that 'changed their lives forever'.

Taking to the witness stand in the Jo Cox murder trial, in which Thomas Mair is accused of killing the Yorkshire MP, Cox's assisstant FazilaAswat described the moment she was attacked to the court.

A court sketch of Thomas Mair, accused of killing Jo Cox. He denies the charges

A court sketch of Thomas Mair, accused of killing Jo Cox. He denies the charges

Fazila Aswat told The Old Bailey courtroom: "I think Jo got out first, then Sandra. I got out of the car and I was still on the roadside. Jo had already walked over to the side of the pavement and my colleague, Sandra, had already walked a few steps up. In that instant our lives changed forever." "A man was suddenly over Mrs Cox with a knife.

"Panic set in." Ms Aswat shouted out for help, "then there was a gun and there was a knife." Mrs Cox was on the floor

"I can remember the hand motion. It was really fast. That was the first section.

Ms Aswat was screaming out, saying things along the lines of 'leave her alone' and asking for the police to be called. "I shouted 'Jo you need to run'. After the first part of the incident the man seemed to have retreated so I ran back to Jo. Everything was focused on Jo. At that time she was talking. She said 'Fazila, I can't run, I'm hurt'. Even then her voice was so moderated. So composed. Unfortunately then he came back."

She swung for him with her handbag several times, but did not manage to connect with him. There was a second attack, the court heard.

"Jo was no longer on the pavement. We were in the road between the two cars." Others then tried to come to help. Ms Aswat remembers a stocky man, probably middle aged, coming towards them. "

"When he first came back I was standing over to Jo, referring to her children, saying 'just think of X and Y you have to run.' He swiped his knife towards me several times, not necessarily to get to me, but because he wanted to get to Jo."

"When he started swinging the knife towards me I then went back behind the car and I think I heard two further gunshots and you could see his hand going again at her."

"In the first bit, I thought he stabbed her first. In the second bit I think he actually shot her close range because he was standing close to her... but my view was not clear."

"At the very end he stood up and said 'Britain First. This is for Britain. Britain will always be first'."

Ms Aswat said Mair then headed away from the market and down the hill after the attack. The prosecution said she tended to Mrs Cox and did what she could for her. Somebody who was there tried to give Mrs Cox CPR.

"Jo was in my arms. It probably only took two or three minutes for the ambulance to arrive but it felt like a lifetime." She rang the local police inspector's mobile and told him what had happened, saying she really needed his help.

Her colleague, Sandra Major, is being called to give evidence of the events on June 16

She was asked about getting out of the car - she had been in the front passenger seat. She saw a man in her peripheral vision. "He had a gun in his hand, he raised his arm and he shot Jo in the head in the area of her temple."

"She fell backwards onto the ground and there was blood pouring down her face. He did shout something out along the lines of 'keep Britain independent' or 'British independence'."

"It was a smaller gun. It wasn't a shot gun. It was a smaller gun, but it was quite deep. He had a shopping bag. To the best of my recollection the gun was in his right hand and the bag was in his left."

Ms Major said the gun had a small metal tube sticking out of it but it wasn't very long.

Ms Major: "He had a knife. He got a knife out of the bag. It was black. Jo was lying on the floor and she sort of tried to sit up a little bit using her right arm to push herself up. The man just started stabbing her while she lying on the floor, stabbing her, and Jo was trying to get away."

Mr Mair denies the charges. The trial continues.

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