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Owen Jones attacker motivated by homophobia or hatred for left-wing views, court hears

Emma Powys Maurice January 16, 2020
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Guardian columnist Owen Jones speaks to the crowd during an Anti-Trump protest in London.

Guardian columnist Owen Jones speaks to a crowd at an anti-Trump protest in London. (Andres Pantoja/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty)

A man who attacked the gay left-wing journalist Owen Jones last year was motivated either by Jones’ sexuality or his left-wing views, prosecutors told a court.

Three men – James Healy, Charlie Ambrose, and Liam Tracey – pled to a charge of affray over the attack outside an Islington pub on 17 August, and sentencing is due to take place in February.

All three men denied that homophobia was behind the attack, which prosecutors accepted in Ambrose and Tracey’s case but not in Healy’s. A trial is now underway to determine whether Healy was motivated by homophobia or antipathy to Jones’ politics.

If Healy is found guilty on either count he faces a higher sentence due to an ‘aggravating factor’ of the crime.

Addressing the court, prosecutor Philip McGhee stated: “It is said, based on the evidence, that the assault was motivated by hostility borne by the defendant towards the victim either due to the victim’s sexual orientation or political views, or both.

“The defendant asserts the only motivation is something that happened between him and the victim inside the public house outside which the assault took place.”

Healy’s barrister, Matthew Radstone, said that his client “accepts he did target” Jones. “It is an assault he has pleaded to and a frenzied one at that,” he added.

But he claimed that the only motivation was something that happened between he and Jones inside the pub. This contradicts Jones’ account, which suggests that the men were waiting for him to leave before “charg[ing] out of the pub with military precision” and launching a “premeditated” attack.

Jones said at the time: “Me and a group of friends went for a nightcap in a pub with a late license.

“We were there for about 45 minutes, before a group of six of us left. A group of men charged, it was very premeditated and very targeted with military precision directed at me. They did a flying kick to my back, dragged me to the ground, and carried on kicking me.

“Without my friends, who I love very much, I have no idea what would have happened, because they had to fend them off.”

Owen Jones suffered cuts and swelling to his back and head, and bruises all down his body during the assault.

Related topics: Labour party, Owen Jones, The Guardian

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