London

Owen Jones attacked 'after altercation in pub', court hears

Owen Jones
Image caption Owen Jones was leaving a pub in north London when a group of men assaulted him

A man attacked Guardian columnist Owen Jones after an "altercation" in a pub and not because of his sexual orientation or politics, a court heard.

The journalist was assaulted by three men as he left The Lexington in Islington, north London, on 17 August.

James Healy, 40, has previously admitted his role in the attack on Mr Jones, who is gay and campaigns for LGBT rights.

Healey is facing a trial of issue at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

Mr Jones suffered cuts and swelling to his back and head and bruising all down his body in the assault.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Owen Jones had been drinking in The Lexington in Islington, north London, when he was targeted

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

Prosecutor Philip McGhee said: "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.

"The defendant asserts the only motivation is something that happened between him and the victim inside the public house outside which the assault took place."

Healy's barrister, Matthew Radstone, said his client "accepts he did target him" but argued there was no evidence that homophobia or the victim's political views were the reason for the attack.

He added: "It is an assault he has pleaded to and a frenzied one at that."

Healy, from, Portsmouth, will be sentenced for affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm at a later date, along with Charlie Ambrose, 30, from Brighton and Liam Tracey, 34, from Camden, who have previously pleaded guilty to affray.

All three men are due to be sentenced on 11 February and were warned they could face prison. Judge Paul Southern granted the defendants conditional bail until then.

The trial of issue, which is not in front of a jury, is expected to last up to two days.

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