Portsmouth man admits involvement in attack on journalist and Labour activist Owen Jones

A PORTSMOUTH man is one of three men who have admitted involvement in an attack on Guardian columnist Owen Jones.

Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 9:49 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th December 2019, 5:09 pm

James Healy, 40, from Portsmouth, joined Charlie Ambrose, 30, from Brighton and Liam Tracey, 34, from Camden, at Snaresbrook Crown Court in admitting a charge of affray.

In the hearing on Wednesday December 4, Healy admitted a further charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. Ambrose and Tracey both denied the charge of Actual Bodily Harm and all the men have said the incident was not motivated by homophobia.

Mr Jones, who is gay and campaigns for LGBT rights, suffered cuts and swelling to his back, head and bruises all down his body during the assault on August 17.

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Three men, including James Healy from Portsmouth, have admitted involvement in an attack on the left-wing activist and Guardian columnist, Owen Jones. Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

He had been drinking in the Lexington pub on the Pentonville Road in Islington, north London, when the incident occurred.

At a previous hearing, Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court heard Mr Jones was ‘karate kicked’ in the back.

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Healy will now face a trial of issue in front of a judge to decide whether the attack was motivated by Mr 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 warned that if the attack was found to be motivated by homophobia ‘it would have a material impact’ on sentence.

The trial of issue against Healy will take place between January 16 and 17 at Snaresbrook Crown Court. Mr Jones will be expected to be in attendance to give evidence.

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

The trio have been granted 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 Lexington pub.

Speaking to the Guardian the day after the assault, Mr Jones said: ‘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.’