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Owen Jones attacker found guilty of assault motivated by homophobia and anti-Left views

Patrick Kelleher January 17, 2020
A man has been found guilty of the aggravated assault of Guardian columnist Owen Jones due to homophobia and his aversion to left-wing political views.

Guardian columnist Owen Jones (Andres Pantoja/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty)

A man has been found guilty of the aggravated assault of Guardian columnist Owen Jones due to homophobia and his aversion to left-wing political views.

James Healy, 40, was one of three men who violently attacked Jones last August outside a London pub. Speaking at the conclusion of a two-day trial today, presiding judge Anne Studd QC said Healy attacked Jones because of “his LGBT and his leftwing beliefs,” the Guardian reports.

“I am satisfied this was a targeted attack on Mr Jones because of who he is and his beliefs,” Studd said in Snaresbrook Crown Court.

Healy had pleaded guilty to assaulting Jones outside the Lexington pub but had denied that his actions were motivated by homophobia and anti-left wing views.

In her judgement today, Studd said that Healy had “far-right” views and said Jones had been the victim of a “wholly unprovoked assault.”

Healy claimed in court that he assaulted Jones after he bumped into him in a London pub, causing him to spill some of his drink. CCTV evidence did not back this up.

Owen Jones was attacked from behind when leaving a London pub in August.

In a witness statement read out in court, Jones said that he had been approached in the pub and was asked: “Are you Owen Jones? We are big fans for your work, keep it up.” Jones believed that the interaction was used to identify him.

He was later attacked from behind while he was saying goodbye to a friend outside the pub.

Charlie Ambrose and Liam Tracey also pleaded guilty to the assault. While prosecutors accepted that they had not been motivated by homophobia or hatred of left-wing views, they did not accept this in Healy’s case.

The court heard yesterday that Healy had a collection of memorabilia linking him to “white supremacist, far-right and homophobic” groups.

A search of Healy’s house uncovered a photo of him doing a Nazi salute.

According to The Guardian, evidence produced in court included a photograph of Healy doing a Nazi salute, which the defence council said was taken “when he was a teenager, 20 years ago”. However the prosecution said the photograph had been printed out in 2015 and Healy had the physical copy in his house.

Other items found in the August 2019 search included memorabilia and badges with slogans and symbols linked to neo-Nazi groups like Combat 18, whose members have been linked to the murders of immigrants and ethnic minority people, and have said they aim to execute “all queers”.

Philip McGhee, prosecuting, said Healy had a badge that said “Combat 18 and white power”, with a St George’s flag and a bulldog. Another featured a white supremacist “sun cross” with the Combat 18 motto “whatever it takes”.

I am satisfied this was a targeted attack on Mr Jones because of who he is and his beliefs.

A black flag was also found with the “Totenkopf” skull, a symbol used by the white supremacist hooligan group the Chelsea Headhunters, as well as the German Nazi party.

McGhee said: “The person who possesses these items has sympathy for white supremacists, far-right, and homophobic organisations.

“[They] bear antipathy for those on the left wing of the political spectrum and those with a non-heterosexual sexual orientation.”

He added earlier: “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.”

Matthew Radstone, defending, insisted that the memorabilia had no relevance to the attack. He added that Healey was part “risk group” of Chelsea supporters, and that the items were “consistent” with his support of the football team.

Owen Jones said the attack was the worst part of ‘a relentless campaign of far-right harassment and threats.’

Writing on Twitter after the ruling, Jones said: “Last August I was attacked, and my friends assaulted while defending me, when I was celebrating my birthday.

“Today a judge ruled that it was a politically motivated and homophobic targeted attack by a far right sympathiser.

“This was the worst moment in a relentless campaign of far right harassment and threats on the street and online. Far right supporters then spread lies online that the attack never happened, leading to further threats. They are not just racist bigots, but deceitful charlatans.”

He added: “The far right is growing in Britain and across the Western world and beyond. We need to unite to defeat this menace. There is no judicial solution to fascism: it has to be defeated through popular struggle.”

 

 

More: Assault, Owen Jones, The Guardian

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