Goddard, who now has nine criminal convictions, has been fined and slapped with a restraining order after shouting and grabbing at the camera of a journalist covering a city centre demo for the M.E.N
‘Yellow vest’ protester James Goddard has been found guilty of assaulting a photographer as he covered a demo in Manchester city centre for the M.E.N.
Goddard, 29, grabbed at Joel Goodman’s camera as he took pictures and recorded video of the protest in Piccadilly Gardens in February.
He denied attacking him and defended himself in what was a heated trial attended by a number of his supporters, several of whom were removed from the courtroom at Manchester Magistrates’ Court.
However a judge this afternoon ruled his actions were unlawful and convicted him of common assault.
He was fined £300 and ordered to pay £500 in prosecution costs and £50 compensation to his victim.
A two-year restraining order was also put in place which prevents the defendant from approaching Mr Goodman.
He was found not guilty of a public order offence of using threatening words or behaviour to cause his victim to fear “immediate” violence after he told his victim he would “take his head off his shoulders.”
He told the court his words were a “common English idiom.” Judge Mark Hadfield said as the threat of violence was not “immediate”, the offence was not made out.
Before entering court a video of Goddard was uploaded onto Twitter of him saying he hoped the “got the right judge” and that he “got the right result”.
The court heard Goddard has nine previous convictions, including theft from an employer and failing to surrender in April 2010 and a racially aggravated public order offence in February 2011.
He told the court he now works as a “content creator” and is an “independent journalist”.
Police were earlier called into court after Mr Goddard surreptitiously held up a piece of paper with the words, “Pussy coward leftist soy boy” written on it as Mr Goodman entered the witness box.
Proceedings were temporarily halted whilst police officers, who were harangued by Mr Goddard’s supporters labelling them ‘jobsworths’, seized the piece of paper.
District Judge Hadfield warned that could have been treated as contempt of court but allowed it to “lie on the slate” and continue the trial after Mr Goodman ensured him he was happy to continue and be cross-examined by Goddard, who defended himself.
In video footage of the incident on Saturday February 9 this year from a Mr Goodman’s body-worn camera, Goddard lunges at Mr Goodman, twice trying to grab his camera as his victim backs away shouting: “Don’t you dare touch my lense!”
About 20 minutes later Mr Goodman told the court Goddard approached him again.
Goddard is filmed saying: “When there’s no police around here I’m going to take your head off your shoulders.
“Next time you are in London, you are finished, all the football lads know you. Next time you are down, see what happens.”
Mr Goodman told the court he took that to mean Goddard would “assault me in the future” and that is “scared me a bit.”
Using a megaphone and surrounded by yellow vest supporters, Goddard is then recorded referring to “Joel” and saying: “Your card is marked.”
Around 20 minutes later there is a third encounter where the two arguing about freedom of speech but this ends in a handshake.
Goddard was arrested five days after the incident at his home address on Kelvindale Drive, Timperley, Trafford.
He made no comment in his police interview but later claimed self-defence.
In court he He described his prosecution as a “witch hunt” and claimed he was being persecuted because Greater Manchester Police “fear the rise of the yellow vests.”
He said he had pushed Mr Goodman’s camera as he believed the pictures would be “given to organisations that tried to do me serious harm”.
He said: “I’m not proud of what I said. It’s a common English idiom. I wanted him out of my personal space.”
He added he had released a video “to my 15,000 followers” apologising for the comments to Mr Goodman.