Judge criticises ‘contempt’ of man jailed after accosting Chris Whitty

Jonathan Chew, 24, pleaded guilty to intent to cause harm after he approached Professor Sir Chris Whitty in a central London park.

Chris Whitty harassment court case
Chris Whitty harassment court case

A judge has criticised the “breathtaking contempt” of a man who accosted Professor Sir Chris Whitty in a central London park.

Jonathan Chew, 24, approached England’s chief medical officer as he walked through St James’s Park in Westminster on June 27 last year.

Footage of the incident, lasting around 20 seconds and showing Chew alongside former estate agent Lewis Hughes, was widely shared on social media.

Appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, Chew, of Chelmsford, Essex, admitted a charge of intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress to Sir Chris as well as obstructing Pc Steven Ozden.

Coronavirus – Wed Dec 8, 2021
Chief medical officer for England Sir Chris Whitty (Adrian Dennis/PA)

District judge Paul Goldspring jailed Chew for eight weeks and ordered him to pay £1,058 in costs and compensation.

Mr Goldspring told the defendant: “Your contempt for these proceedings and this court have been breathtaking throughout the process.”

It came after the judge interrupted proceedings to order Chew to stop vaping in the dock.

Chew also responded to the costs announcement by saying: “That’s peanuts” and began singing “West Ham ’til I die” as he was led out of the dock.

Mr Goldspring condemned the defendant for targeting Sir Chris who had responded to “an unprecedented crisis over the last few years” with “great dignity” and “great professionalism”.

“He didn’t choose be in the public eye. He is entitled to go about his work. He is entitled to go about his daily life,” Mr Goldspring added.

“You targeted him, in the sense that you recognised him from the TV,” he said.

The judge said he gave Chew “full credit” for pleading guilty at the first opportunity to the charge of intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He also said he accepted Chew did not initially intend to be hostile and suffered from learning difficulties, mental health issues and autism.

However, he added: “You had a significant, I go as far as to say, an appalling criminal record.”

During the hearing, prosecutor Iestyn Morgan said that Chew started filming Sir Chris on his phone while Hughes grabbed him in a headlock.

In the footage, shown to the court, the pair can be seen jeering as Sir Chris attempted to break free.

The court then heard how Chew gave the name and old address of his brother Aaron Chew to the police officer.

Chris Whitty harassment court case
Lewis Hughes (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“This did cause a waste of police resources,” Mr Morgan said, adding that police attended the address on July 1 to discover another man legally now lived there.

Officers were later able to identify that Jonathan Chew was the suspect after he provided comments about the incident to The Sun newspaper, the court heard.

Mr Morgan also said that Sir Chris suffered “the added humiliation of the recording being forwarded and uploaded”.

Rabah Kherbane, defending, argued that Chew has learning difficulties, “intellectual difficulties” and “delayed maturity” and often becomes “frustrated” when trying to communicate with others.

Hughes, 24, of Romford in Essex, earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of assault by beating and was sentenced last July.

He was handed an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, and was ordered to pay a total of £307 in fines and compensation.

He was labelled “yobbish” by the Mr Goldspring and was criticised for leaving Sir Chris “humiliated” after putting him in a headlock.

Chew was handed an eight-week custodial sentence for intent to cause harassment, alarm and distress and two weeks for wilful obstruction of a police office to run concurrently.

He was also ordered to pay £1,058 in costs and compensation.

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