Jo Cox murder: Suspect described as loner who liked gardening
The 52-year-old man arrested over the murder of British parliamentarian Jo Cox was described by neighbours as a quiet loner with a passion for gardening and family said he had a history of mental illness.
Birstall: The 52-year-old man arrested over the murder of British parliamentarian Jo Cox was described by neighbours as a quiet loner with a passion for gardening and family said he had a history of mental illness.
The suspect, who lived close to the scene where Cox was shot and stabbed, was named by British media as Thomas, or Tommy, Mair. There have been no charges in connection with the murder.
Next-door neighbour Diana Peters, 65, told Reuters she had known Mair since she was eight and that he never had visitors.
"I'm totally devastated — I didn't want to believe it. He's been very helpful to me. Anything I asked him to do he did very willingly and sometimes without my needing to ask," she said.
"I saw him the day before. I was taking my cats to the vet and he came and asked me how they were," she added. "But obviously it was premeditated because he wouldn't have had a knife or a gun with him if it wasn't."
Mair had taught English to foreigners in the local community for several years and was brought up by his grandparents, she said. His mother is now in a local care home, she added.
The Guardian newspaper said police were investigating Mair's political affiliations following witness accounts that the suspect shouted "Britain first" as he launched the attack.
Britain votes on June 23 about whether to leave the European Union and campaigning has sometimes been acrimonious.
There were also reports, that Reuters was not able to verify independently, linking Mair to right-wing groups in the United States and South Africa.
Family members said that Mair had not expressed strong political views, media reported.
Mair's half-brother, Duane St Louis, 41, told ITV television he believed his brother "wouldn't hurt a fly", according to the British Press Association.
He told the Sun: "He's never expressed any views about Britain, or politics or racist tendencies. I'm mixed race and I'm his half-brother, we got on well."
"He has a history of mental illness but he has had help," the Guardian quoted his brother, Scott Mair, as saying. "I am struggling to believe what has happened. My brother is not violent and is not all that political. I don't even know who he votes for."