Chris Whitty assault: Second man pleads guilty over park attack

Chris Whitty assault: Second man pleads guilty over park attack
Jonathan ChewImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Jonathan Chew arriving at Westminster Magistrates' Court

A man has admitted intending to cause harassment, alarm or distress to Prof Sir Chris Whitty when he approached him in a central London park.

Jonathan Chew and Lewis Hughes accosted England's chief medical officer in St James's Park last year.

Chew, from Chelmsford, Essex, appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court where he pleaded guilty. Hughes previously

The 24-year-old also admitted obstructing a police officer.

Prosecution barrister Iestyn Morgan told the court Chew started filming Sir Chris on his phone while Hughes grabbed him in a headlock.

The footage, lasting about 20 seconds, was widely shared on social media and showed the pair jeering as Sir Chris attempted to break free.

England's chief medical officer was uninjured in the attack which happened on 27 June 2021.

Earlier in January, Chew's defence lawyer Rabah Kherbane, had asked for the case to be adjourned after the defendant's former solicitor withdrew due to being "professionally embarrassed" about the defendant's behaviour in court.

Mr Kherbane said the 24-year-old has several conditions including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism which would make it difficult for him to follow proceedings.

A still of the video footage appearing to show Chris Whitty being grabbedImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Sir Chris was not injured in the assault

During the hearing, senior district judge Paul Goldspring repeatedly told the defendant to stop interrupting proceedings, and that he would be fitted with an electronic tag due to "concerns" over him not being at home on several occasions.

The court then heard how Chew gave the name and old address of his brother Aaron Chew to PC Steven Ozden.

Mr Morgan said: "This did cause a waste of police resources."

He said police attended the address on 1 July to discover a man called Harry now lived at the property. Officers were able to identify that Jonathan Chew was the suspect after he provided comments about the incident to the Sun newspaper.

The court also heard that Chew had at least 26 previous convictions including public order offences.

Mr Morgan said the defendant had been on licence having been released from custody in July 2020 and argued that this was an aggravating factor.

Jonathan Chew leaving court in January 2021Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Jonathan Chew leaving Westminster Magistrates' Court in January 2021

Mr Kherbane, defending, told the court that Chew had not been at a demonstration but "was simply out with a friend and it was just a chance encounter". He added that Sir Chris had not been targeted for his views on the pandemic.

But Mr Morgan said prosecutors were not arguing that Sir Chris was targeted because of his views, but "because he was someone in the public eye" and that he suffered "the added humiliation of the recording being forwarded and uploaded".

"There has to be an element of deterrent to stop people targeting those who do not choose to be in the public eye," Mr Morgan added.

Mr Kherbane later said Chew was "happy and smiley" in the video, showing he was "genuinely excited" and was not intending to humiliate Sir Chris at the time.

Hughes, from Wigton Way in Romford, east London, was sentenced in July to an eight-week suspended jail sentence and £100 fine.

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