Three men admit attacking Guardian columnist Owen Jones but deny it was motivated by homophobia - Press Gazette

Three men admit attacking Guardian columnist Owen Jones but deny it was motivated by homophobia

Three men have admitted attacking Guardian columnist left-wing activist Owen Jones, but deny the incident was motivated by homophobia.

Jones, who is gay and campaigns for LGBT rights, suffered cuts and swelling to his back and head and bruises all down his body in the assault while out celebrating his birthday on 17 August.

He had been drinking in a pub in Islington, north London, when he was targeted.

James Healy, 40, Charlie Ambrose, 30, and Liam Tracey, 34, appeared at Snaresbrook Crown Court yesterday where they all admitted a charge of affray.

Healy admitted a further charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

At a previous hearing, Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court heard Jones was “karate kicked” in the back.

Healy will now face a trial of issue in front of a judge to decide whether the attack was motivated by Jones’s sexuality as the prosecution allege.

Prosecutor Philip McGhee said: “There will be no need for a trial by a jury in this case – that said there seems to be a question that is unavoidable and in order to resolve it properly we need a trial of issue.”

He added that if the attack was found to be motivated by homophobia “it would have a material impact” on sentence.

“It’s not accepted by any of the defendants in this case that this was the motivation for their offending,” McGhee said.

The trial of issue against Healy will take place between 16 and 17 January at Snaresbrook Crown Court, where Jones will be required to give evidence.

All three men are due to be sentenced on 11 February and were warned they could face prison.

Judge Paul Southern granted all three men bail until their next court appearance on the condition they do not contact the victim or any of the witnesses in the case or go to the pub where the attack took place.

Healy, of Portsmouth, Ambrose, of Brighton, and Tracey, of Camden, spoke only to confirm their names and enter their pleas.

Ambrose and Tracey both denied a charge of ABH and the charge was left to lie on file.

Speaking to the Guardian the day after the assault, Jones described it as “clearly premeditated”.

He added: “In the past year I’ve been repeatedly targeted in the street by far right activists, including attempts to use physical assault, and homophobic abuse.

“Given the context, it seems unthinkable that I was singled out for anything other than a politically motivated, premeditated attack,” he said.

Picture: Reuters/Simon Dawson

Comments

4 thoughts on “Three men admit attacking Guardian columnist Owen Jones but deny it was motivated by homophobia”

  1. Didn’t Mr Jones believe it politically motivated by the far right and allow that suspicion to be cited by others, namely Mr Corbyn? Given the defendants claim Mr Jones’s sexuality wasn’t the cause combined with his initial belief of a far right attack, why is this now a trial of issue? Is the prosecution attempting to seek as much punishment as possible as opposed to a just punishment?

  2. It’s a bit early in the morning for me to be thinking but can someone explain why it is worse to be attacked for being a homosexual than it would be for any other reason? Is it that you are not only suffering a physical impact (as anyone being physically attacked would) but also an emotional one by virtue of who you are, your ‘identity’?

    It doesn’t quite make sense to me. Surely most attacks are connected to the victim’s identity in some way or other – living in a dangerous area due to poverty, not being able to afford a chauffeur home, not being built physically strong enough to defend yourself, not being popular enough to have lots of friends to defend you – all these things speak to our identity and would cause additional emotional harm after a physical attack. I know people who are attacked simply because they appear big and strong, indeed they don’t go out much because of it – should they not enjoy special protection? Ginger people get targeted. Short people. Tall people. Naturally unintelligent and lazy people. Hard-working geeky people. Fat people. Ugly people. Good looking people. People wearing glasses. The fact is, stupid or greedy violent people don’t really need any particular excuse to attack. You don’t need to be gay to fear being attacked, nor to feel vulnerable while being attacked, nor to question some aspect of yourself after an attack.

    So, as I can’t get it to make rational sense, is it that the legislators wanted especially to protect one group of people over others? This would be, by definition, unequal and therefore, I would suggest, unjust unless we are saying these protected groups are inherently weak, as perhaps a child would be – a demeaning, condescending and even disempowering attitude towards adults, no?

    If it is not rooted in actual special case harm, nor in actual special case vulnerability, what is it based in – activism, virtue signalling, vote-seeking politicking, an admission of the failure of our police to protect all equally?

    Is this something to do with May’s ‘hate theory’ legislation? It’s tempting to blame her, she really was a very stupid woman.

    Until someone can explain this to me, I am calling BS on what appears unequal and unjust legislation.

    I don’t like Owen Jones, can’t stand his dog-whistle Islington politics, but I offer him my sincere best wishes and would like to think I would have stood up for him against these thugs if I had been present. I still believe that justice really should be blind – in the UK, it seems it is not. That is a problem that could have very serious, existential even, consequences for a free and happy society. And yet our media stay silent.

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