Convicted far-right football thug jailed for homophobic attack on journalist Owen Jones

Guardian columnist, Owen Jones speaks at an anti Boris Johnson election rally

One of the three men who violently attacked Guardian columnist Owen Jones outside a north London, England, pub in 2019 was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison on Friday (July 24).

James Healy, a far-right football fan who judges said attacked Jones because of his left-leaning beliefs and for being gay, was sentenced at Snaresbrook crown court.

The 40-year-old denied knowing who Jones was, but judge Anne Studd said the man’s vast collection of far-right paraphernalia – including a badge carrying a neo-Nazi group name and a football flag decorated with SS symbols – says otherwise.

“I, therefore, propose to sentence Mr Healy on the basis that this was a wholly unprovoked attack on Mr Jones by reason of his widely published left-wing and LGBTQ beliefs by a man who has demonstrable right-wing sympathies,” Studd said after the two-day hearing.

Healy, from Portsmouth, will carry out a two year and eight months-long sentence for assault, as well as 10 months to run concurrently for affray, the Guardian reported.

The Chelsea FC fan’s rap sheet is one of a string of prior convisions for football-related violence. Healy had argued Jones bumped into him, causing him to spill his drink which later curdled into violence against the activist.

What happened to Owen Jones? 

At around 2am on August 17, 2019, Jones was out celebrating his birthday when he was approached outside The Lexington Public House, an airy lounge bar on Pentonville Road.

Speaking after the incident in August, he alleged that he was the victim of a premeditated assault by “far-right thugs” while he was celebrating his birthday with his friends at the watering hole.

He said he was directly targeted in the attack, adding: “They marched over, kicked me in the back, threw me on the floor, and then kicked me in the head.”

A police statement later confirmed the claims, stating in a news release: “The man was assaulted by four male suspects. When the victim’s friends attempted to intervene, they were also assaulted.

“None of those injured required hospital treatment or London Ambulance Service.”

Detective Sergeant Scott Barefoot said previously: “This was a completely senseless attack on a man simply enjoying a night out with friends.

“Although there were no serious injuries, the effects of becoming a victim of such an attack can continue when any injuries have healed.”