Alex Jones ordered to pay $470m more to Sandy Hook families

 (AP)
(AP)

Alex Jones has been ordered to pay an extra $473million for promoting wild conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook school massacre and now owes the victims’ families a staggering $1.44billion.

Connecticut Judge Barbara Bellis imposed the punitive damages on the Infowars host and his company Free Speech Systems. Jones repeatedly told his millions of followers the massacre that killed 20 first graders and six educators was staged by “crisis actors” to enact more gun control.

“The record clearly supports the plaintiffs’ argument that the defendants’ conduct was intentional and malicious, and certain to cause harm by virtue of their infrastructure, ability to spread content, and massive audience including the infowarriors,” the judge wrote in a 45-page ruling.

Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for the Sandy Hook families, said he hopes the award sends a message to conspiracy theorists who profit from lies.

“The Court recognized the ‘intentional, malicious ... and heinous’ conduct of Mr Jones and his business entities,” Mattei said in a statement.

On his show Thursday, Jones called the award “ridiculous” and a “joke” and said he has little money to pay the damages.

“Well, of course I’m laughing at it,” he said. “It’d be like if you sent me a bill for a billion dollars in the mail. Oh man, we got you. It’s all for psychological effect. It’s all the Wizard of Oz ... when they know full well the bankruptcy going on and all the rest of it, that it’ll show what I’ve got and that’s it, and I have almost nothing.”

Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, who brought the earlier defamation lawsuit forward, requested up to $150 million (£125 million) for 10 years of harassment, emotional suffering and death threats from his viewers following his false claims.

The Sandy Hook shooting is among the worst in US history and the worst in a US school. On December 14, 2012 Adam Lanza, 20, entered the school in Newtown, Connecticut and shot and killed 26 people, 20 of whom were children. Lanza killed himself as the first emergency services began to arrive. The tragedy led to growing calls for tighter controls on gun ownership. Jones claimed the shooting had been faked by gun control advocates.

On his show Infowars, Jones claimed that the couple were “crisis actors” and victims of the 2012 shooting, including their son Jesse Lewis, were not really killed.