Jury orders Alex Jones to pay USD 4.1 mln for Sandy Hook hoax claims

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US conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been ordered to pay at least USD 4.1 million to the parents of a child killed during the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.

Jones claimed that the school shooting, which left 20 children and six staff dead, was a hoax.

A Texas jury handed down the judgement on Thursday, following a two-week trial in Austin where Jones' radio show and webcast Infowars are based.

Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, separated parents of slain six-year-old Jesse Lewis, testified that Jones' followers harassed them and sent them death threats for years - in the false belief that the parents were lying about their son's death. They sought USD 150 mln in compensatory damages.

Whilst Thursday's verdict fell far short of that amount, legal experts say the jury could still award them a large punitive damages verdict.

Those deliberations are expected to begin after both sides present arguments on Jones' net worth on Friday.

Jones was not present in the courtroom while Thursday's verdict was read.

His lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Jones' company Free Speech Systems declared bankruptcy last week.

He said during a Monday broadcast that the filing will help the company stay on the air while it appeals.

Heslin and Lewis joined other Sandy Hook parents in urging a judge to block the company from sending Jones any money until they get to the bottom of their finances.

Jones’s ability to reach a wide audience online was, for the most part, halted in 2018 when his channels, pages and podcasts were banned by Apple, Facebook, Youtube and Spotify.