A convicted football hooligan has been sentenced to two years and eight months in prison after an attack on Guardian columnist and left-wing activist Owen Jones.
James Healy, 40, admitted assaulting Mr Jones outside of a pub in August last year, but denied being motivated by Mr Jones’s sexuality or political campaigning – claiming he did not know who he was.
After a two-day hearing to determine Healy’s motive, Recorder Judge Anne Studd QC previously found the unprovoked attack could only be motivated by Mr Jones’s media profile as a left-wing polemicist.
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
She added: “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.”
Following Healy’s arrest, a search of his home found a number of items connected to far-right ideology, including a collection of pin badges linked to white supremacist groups.
The Chelsea FC fan – who has a string of convictions for football-related violence – had argued he “had the hump” because the victim had bumped into him and spilled his drink.
Mr Jones suffered cuts and swelling to his back and head, and bruises all down his body in the incident outside the Lexington pub on the Pentonville Road in Islington, north London, on August 17.
In his evidence, Mr Jones said: “I’m an unapologetic socialist, I’m an anti-racist, I’m an anti-fascist and I’ve consistently used my profile to advocate left-wing causes.”
Appearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday, Healy was given a two-year, eight-month prison sentence for affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
His two co-defendants – Charlie Ambrose, from Brighton, and Liam Tracey, from Camden – were given suspended sentences of eight months each, suspended for two years after pleading guilty to affray over the incident.