Shortly after the man charged in the killing of British MP Jo Cox appeared in court, her sister read an emotional statement to a crowd of supporters.

"There are some things in life you should never have to do. Last night, I had to go and identify my sister's body," Kim Leadbetter said. "Yes, this was Jo Cox, MP and she was many things to many people in her too short life. But she was my sister, my only sibling, my parents' first-born child, a wife and a mom."

She said the outpouring of love and support the family has received has helped them through "some extremely dark times" since Thursday.

Labour Party lawmaker Cox, 41, was shot and stabbed to death Thursday after getting out of her car in the town of Birstall in her home constituency.

"For now, our family is broken, but we will mend over time and we will never let Jo leave our lives. She will live on through all the good people in the world — through [her husband] Brendan, through us and through her truly wonderful children, who will always know what an utterly amazing woman their mother was," Leadbetter said.

Earlier Saturday, the man charged in Cox's death told a London court his name was "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain" in his first court appearance.

Britain Lawmaker Killed

This courtroom sketch by Elizabeth Cook shows Thomas Mair, center, appearing at Westminster Magistrates Court, London, Saturday June 18, 2016, charged with the murder of British Member of Parliament Jo Cox. Labour Party lawmaker Cox, 41, was shot and stabbed to death Thursday after getting out of her car in the town of Birstall in her home constituency. (Elizabeth Cook/Associated Press)

Thomas Mair, 52, made his defiant statement in Westminster Magistrates' Court in London after being charged overnight.

Mair refused to give his correct name and did not answer when asked for his address and date of birth.

The rare killing in broad daylight of a British politician has stunned the country and silenced what had been a furious campaign ahead of Thursday's referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Union.

Both sides have suspended campaigning as a sign of respect for Cox, who became the first sitting member of Parliament to be killed in a quarter-century.

Mair was charged with murder, inflicting grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit a crime, and other gun-related charges.

Psychiatric report requested

Deputy chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said in court that a psychiatric report should be prepared "bearing in mind the name he has just given."

Mair will be kept in custody at Belmarsh Prison until his next court appearance, set for Monday at the Old Bailey courthouse.

He was not required to enter a plea during the brief session Saturday, during which he was handcuffed to a guard throughout the proceedings.

Authorities have not offered a motive for the killing. Counter-terrorism police were involved in the investigation looking for possible links, but the charges filed did not include terrorism offenses.


The man accused of killing British MP Jo Cox made his first court appearance on Saturday. When asked his name, Thomas Mair shouted 'death to traitors, freedom for Britain.' (Yui Mok/Press Association/Reuters)

Cox was a former aid worker who championed immigrant rights, bringing an end to Syria's civil war and keeping the United Kingdom in the European Union. The day before her killing, Cox joined her husband and two young children in campaigning for the pro-EU cause on the River Thames, where the family had lived in a houseboat since her election last year.

Vigils have been held across the country in her memory and Parliament has been recalled Monday to honour her.

Police have praised the bravery of a 77-year-old man who tried to aid Cox during the attack and was seriously injured. The man is recovering in hospital.

The attack has raised security concerns for other members of Parliament who routinely meet with constituents in public meetings.

It has long been a tradition in Britain for lawmakers to hold regular "surgeries" in which they discuss local, national and international issues with residents of their district.

With files from CBC News