Man guilty of Jo Cox death threats outside polling station
A musician has been found guilty of threatening an ex-councillor with the murder of Jo Cox at a polling station.
Stephen McIntyre said ‘what happened to Jo Cox will happen to you’ to Vino Vajayakumar, also known as Vino Vinojan, in a fit of rage outside the Tarring Priory Bowls Club building in Church Road on the day of the general election.
McIntyre, 45, claimed he actually said ‘you are lucky I’m not a nutter, remember Jo’ as he was walking away.
But magistrates at Worthing Magistrates’ Court agreed with the former account at the trial held this morning.
The court heard how McIntyre’s grudge against the former Worthing Borough Councillor began when a £360 parcel he had posted via Mr Vajayakumar’s newsagents, Taylor’s Newsagents in South Street, Tarring, went missing.
Prosecutor Kirsten Sharp said: ‘You had it in for Vajayakumar because of this parcel, which is obviously extremely important to you.
‘You see him and are like a dog with a bone, and the red mist descended.”
Ms Sharp said McIntyre, of Upton Road, West Tarring, hurled ‘appalling language’ at Mr Vajayakumar, who was there representing the Conservative Party, before going inside and casting his vote.
Amanda Redman, the presiding officer at the polling station, described McIntyre as being ‘very aggressive’ and told him to ‘calm down’.
She heard him mention ‘that politician’ and ‘stabbing’ – but McIntyre later admitted he did mention Jo Cox by name inside the polling station, contradicting claims it was a spur-of-the-moment comment.
He then went outside and continued to swear at Mr Vajayakumar before going over to Labour representative David Lace, pointing at Mr Vajayakumar and making the comment about the murdered Labour MP.
Mr Vajayakumar said: “I was frightened and I didn’t know what he was going to do at the time.”
Amanda Redman said she saw McIntyre ‘swinging’ his bike towards Mr Vajayakumar, and decided to call the police after he left.
The court heard how the incident had prompted Mr Vajayakumar, who also owns a security company, to go home and get a stab-proof vest because he ‘was in fear of his safety’.
McIntyre alleged that Mr Vajayakumar tried to ‘square up’ to him – but Ms Sharp said: “Mr Vajayakumar didn’t want to lose face by cowering in the toilet – he wasn’t aggressive, he was entirely correct in his behaviour.”
The court heard that the lost parcel was a £360 drum machine that McIntyre, a self-employed musician, had sold to make ends meet.
He blamed Mr Vajayakumar for the loss and returned to the newsagents, where he filmed an exchange between them and Mr Vajayakumar’s mother on his phone.
McIntyre’s voice broke as the ‘injustice’ of his lost parcel came ‘flooding back’: “He ruined my life. It sounds ridiculous but he did ruin my life – look where I am.”
Regarding the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, McIntyre said: “That guy was a nutter that killed her. It was appalling.”
He said he shouted at Mr Vajayakumar because he wanted to ‘embarrass him in front of his colleagues’.
Julia French, representing McIntyre, said: “It was a flippant, foolish comment made in the heat of the moment on election day.”
After an hour of deliberations by the magistrates, McIntyre was found guilty of threatening behaviour with the intent to cause fear of unlawful violence. He will be sentenced on October 9 at Worthing Magistrates’ Court.