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Man Behind Jo Cox’s Death Arrested

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Named locally as Thomas Mair, the 52-year-old was arrested by police close to the home where he lived alone in Birstall, West Yorkshire. . . . reports Asian Lite News

A much younger Tommy Mair
A much younger Tommy Mair

According to the BBC, there are reports that Mair had a history of mental health issues and that as a young man, he may have had sympathy for far-right groups. Witnesses reported that during the attack he shouted “Britain first” twice. The UK political party Britain First, which boasts of its hatred of white left-wing politicians, has issued a video statement condemning the attack and says that it had no connection with the incident.

 West Yorkshire Police said they would not speculate about the motive but the area’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns Williamson, called the killing a “localised incident”. The force said it was working together with the North East Counter Terrorism Unit on the investigation.

Mr Mair had lived alone since his grandmother died 20 years ago. His brother Scott, 50, told reporters on Thursday that his brother had a “history of mental illness” but that “he has had help”. Scott Mair told the Sun: “We are struggling to believe what has happened. My brother is not a violent man and is not that political. We don’t even know who he votes for. I am visibly shaken at this news. I am so sorry for the MP and her family.” Mr Mair’s half-brother, Duane St Louis, 41, told ITV he believed his brother “wouldn’t hurt a fly”. “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 said.

Thomas Mair spoke to a local newspaper six years ago about how volunteering at a park in Birstall had helped him with his mental health issues. “I can honestly say it has done me more good than all the psychotherapy and medication in the world,” he said.

Friends and neighbours of Mr Mair’s mother Mary Goodall told the BBC she was devastated by the news and had been unable to sleep. They said they did not know him as someone who had long-term mental health issues, although he may have been treated for depression a long time ago. Known to them as Tom, the neighbours said he went to visit Mrs Goodall once or twice a week to do shopping and cleaning.

Police forensics teams searched Mr Mair’s home on Thursday while his neighbours in Batley also described their shock over the news. One man said: “He’s a very quiet person. He likes his gardening and stuff like that. He was a man of few words really.”

Another neighbour said she had seen him outside the house on the morning of the attack. “He just walked past like he does,” she said. Friend and neighbour David Hallas said: “When his image came up on the screen me and my wife said, ‘not in a million years’. Of all the people in Birstall that I know, he would’ve been at the bottom of the list.”He described him as shy, a loner, a “gentle, kind chap”, a well-read man with whom he had talked politics and someone who never hinted at extremist views.

Marjorie Wallace, from the mental health charity Sane, said living alone and feeling disconnected from society was “fertile soil for extreme ideas, beliefs and hatred”.

Loneliness was one of Mrs Cox’s many campaigns both in her constituency and Westminster.

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