Owen Jones attacker had collection of ‘white supremacist, far-right and homophobic’ memorabilia, court hears
A man who attacked gay Guardian columnist Owen Jones had a collection of memorabilia associated with “white supremacist, far-right and homophobic” groups, a court heard on Thursday, January 16.
Jones was attacked on August 17, 2019, by three men outside an Islington pub, throwing him to the ground and kicking him repeatedly. He suffered cuts and swelling to his back and head, and bruises all down his body after the assault.
The three men – James Healy, Charlie Ambrose, and Liam Tracey – pleaded guilty to affray last month, but they deny that it was motivated by homophobia or Jones’ left-wing views.
Prosecutors accepted in this 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 a judge finds that these were in fact motivating factors, Healy could face a higher sentence.
But now Snaresbrook Crown Court has heard that Healy had a collection of memorabilia linking him to “white supremacist, far-right and homophobic” groups.
This is a bit dramatic, so firstly I’m fine, but last night – when I was celebrating my birthday – I was attacked, along with my friends, in a blatant premeditated assault.
— Owen Jones? (@OwenJones84) August 17, 2019
The group then scarpered: I don’t know if they said anything in the melee. I’m fine other than a big bump on my head and a cut back.
Given the far right attacks I’ve had in the streets, and generally escalating far right threats I’ve had, I’m in no doubt as to what this is.— Owen Jones? (@OwenJones84) August 17, 2019
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 Healey 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”.
The defence said the ‘white supremacist, homophobic’ memorabilia had no relevance to the Owen Jones attack.
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.
Sentencing for Healy, Ambrose and Tracey is due to take place in February.
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