Man accused of assaulting Chris Whitty makes court video appearance in dressing gown

A man who allegedly assaulted Chris Whitty has been accused of having a "breathtakingly cavalier approach" after attending a court appearance via video link in his dressing gown.

Jonathan Chew, 24, and estate agent Lewis Hughes, 23, allegedly filmed themselves during the incident as they walked through St James’s Park, London, in June.

Hughes, who lost his job as an estate agent after his employer saw the alleged footage, admitted common assault in July and was given an eight-week jail term, suspended for two years.

Mr Chew, who denies common assault, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday via video link after testing positive for Covid. He appeared from his bedroom, coughing occasionally and wearing a dressing gown.

Shortly before the hearing started, Peter Fallen, his lawyer, told the court he was withdrawing from the case because he was "professionally embarrassed".

"I am no longer able to continue to represent Mr Chew, I’m sorry to tell you, for professional reasons," he told the court.

Daniel O’Donoghue, prosecuting, questioned the veracity of the documents provided by Mr Chew confirming his positive Covid results. Mr O’Donoghue told the court police had tried to make inquiries but the NHS refused to share confidential information with them.

When police went to his address to see if he was isolating, his brother’s girlfriend answered the door and said he was not living there, she did not know where he was and was not aware that he had Covid.

Mr Chew told the court that he wanted Mr Whitty to be in court for the trial. "The law is that I have the right for him to come," he told the court. "I want Chris Whitty there."

Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring replied: "I suspect I know a bit more about the law than you do."

Mr Chew told the court: "I feel like I’m innocent. I’m answering an assault charge which I don’t think I’ve done." Judge Goldspring said: "A remarkable recovery, I might say, from where you were two minutes ago."

Mr Chew accused the judge of "victimising" him, adding: "You’re calling me a liar."

Judge Goldspring replied: "Your cavalier approach to the severity of these proceedings is breathtaking." Mr Chew asked: "What does cavalier mean?"

Tuesday’s trial had to be vacated until Jan 4 because Mr Chew was unable to see the CCTV evidence via the video link.

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