'Darth Vader' spared jail in Jedi church attacks

By: AP
By: AP

HOLYHEAD, Wales (AP) -- A man who dressed up as Darth Vader, wearing a garbage bag for a cape, and assaulted the founders of a group calling itself the Jedi church was given a suspended sentence Tuesday.

Arwel Wynne Hughes, 27, attacked Jedi church founder Barney Jones - aka Master Jonba Hehol - with a metal crutch, hitting him on the head, prosecutors told Holyhead Magistrates' Court.

He also whacked Jones' 18-year-old cousin, Michael Jones - known as Master Mormi Hehol - bruising his thigh in the March 25 incident, prosecutors said.

The two cousins and Barney Jones' brother, Daniel, set up the Church of Jediism, Anglesey order, last year. Jedi is the faith followed by some of the central characters in the "Star Wars" films.

The group, which claims about 30 members, says on its Web site that it uses "insight and knowledge" from the films as "a guide to living a better and more worthwhile life."

"We all love the films and what they stand for. Obviously some people are going to laugh about it," the Wales on Sunday newspaper quoted Barney Jones as saying last month. "But a lot of people do take it seriously."

Unfortunately for Hughes, his March attack was recorded on a video camera that the cousins had set up to film themselves in a light saber battle.

"Darth Vader! Jedis!" Hughes shouted as he approached.

Hughes claimed he couldn't remember the incident, having drunk the better part of a 2 1/2-gallon (10-liter) box of wine beforehand.

"He knows his behavior was wrong and didn't want it to happen but he has no recollection of it," said Hughes' lawyer, Frances Jones.

District Judge Andrew Shaw sentenced Hughes to two months in jail but suspended the sentence for one year. He also ordered Hughes to pay $195 to each of his victims and $117 in court costs.

In the 2001 United Kingdom census, 390,000 - 0.7 percent of the population - listed Jedi as their religion.

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