A man who has been jailed for accosting Professor Sir Chris Whitty gave false information to the police – but was identified after commenting on the incident in a newspaper.
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.
Prosecutor Iestyn Morgan said that Chew started filming Prof Whitty on his phone while Hughes grabbed him in a headlock.
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In the footage, shown to Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, the pair can be seen jeering as Prof Whitty attempted to break free.
The court heard how Mr Chew gave the name and old address of his brother Aaron Chew to a police officer.
Mr Morgan said: “This did cause a waste of police resources.”
He said police attended the address on July 1 to discover a man called Harry now lived at the address.
Officers were then able to identify that Jonathan Chew was the suspect after he provided comments about the incident to The Sun newspaper.
Mr Chew, of Chelmsford, Essex, admitted a charge of intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress to Sir Chris.
He also admitted obstructing Pc Steven Ozden.
District judge Paul Goldspring jailed Chew for eight weeks and ordered him to pay £1,058 in costs and compensation.
He said: “You chose at that point to make a very conscious decision, I have no doubt in an effort to avoid being prosecuted for your offending.
“Unfortunately that wasn’t something you put right immediately.”
Mr Goldspring added that Sir Chris has responded to “an unprecedented crisis over the last few years” with “great dignity” and “great professionalism”.
“He didn’t choose to be in the public eye. He is entitled to go about his work from him. He is entitled to go about his daily life, ”Mr Goldspring added.
“You targeted him, in the sense that you recognized him from the TV,” he said.
“Although you did not upload the video, you were complicit in sharing it.”
“You had a significant, I go as far as to say, an appalling criminal record,” he added.
Mr Goldspring said he also wanted to create a “deterrent” to stop people accosting those who do not choose to be in the public eye.
The district justice 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.
As he was sentencing Chew, Mr Goldspring interrupted proceedings to ask him to stop vaping.
Chew also responded to the costs announcement by saying: “That’s peanuts.”
”Your contemplation for these proceedings and this court have been breathtaking throughout the process,” Mr Goldspring said.
But as Chew was lead out of the dock, he began to sing “West Ham ’til I die” loudly.
The prosecutor added that Sir Chris suffered “the added humiliation of the recording being forwarded and uploaded”.
Rabah Kherbane, defending, argued that Chew had 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 labeled “yobbish” by Mr Goldspring and was criticized for leaving Sir Chris “humiliated” after putting him in a headlock.
Chew was handed an eight week custodial sentence for attempt to cause harassment, alarm and distress and two weeks for wilful obstruction of a police office for two weeks to run co-currently.
He was also ordered to pay £1,058 in costs and compensation.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.