Connecticut state jury orders founder of fake news website Infowars to pay 15 plaintiffs in Sandy Hook school shooting defamation trial for falsely claiming the massacre was a hoax.

Jones claimed for years the Sandy Hook shooting was
Jones claimed for years the Sandy Hook shooting was "staged" by gun control activists and that the parents were "crisis actors." (Reuters Archive)

A US jury has ordered far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay nearly $1 billion in damages for falsely claiming that the deadly 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was a "hoax."

The jury in Connecticut on Wednesday, after three days of deliberations, awarded $965 million to the families of eight Sandy Hook victims and an FBI agent who brought the defamation case against Jones.

Jones, the founder of the notorious website Infowars and host of a popular radio show, has been found liable in multiple defamation lawsuits brought by parents of the victims of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 children and six teachers dead.

The 48-year-old Jones claimed for years on his show that the Sandy Hook shooting was "staged" by gun control activists and that the parents were "crisis actors," but has since acknowledged it was "100 percent real."

The plaintiffs were relatives of 20 children and six staff members who were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

READ MORE: Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones ordered to pay $49.3M over Sandy Hook lies

InfoWars declares bankruptcy

A Texas jury ordered Jones last month to pay nearly $50 million in damages to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose six-year-old son Jesse was killed by the 20-year-old gunman behind the Sandy Hook shooting.

The latest damages trial was held in Waterbury, Connecticut, less than 30 kilometres from Newtown.

InfoWars declared bankruptcy in April and another company owned by Jones, Free Speech Systems, also recently filed for bankruptcy.

During a live broadcast as the verdict was read, Jones vowed to appeal and said his company's ongoing bankruptcy will protect Infowars in the meantime.

"We're fighting Goliath," he said.

READ MORE: Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones ordered to pay $4.1M in Sandy Hook damages

'Drowning in grief'

Lawyers for families of eight Sandy Hook victims during closing arguments in Connecticut last week said Jones cashed in for years on lies about the shooting, which drove traffic to his Infowars website and boosted sales of its various products.

The families, meanwhile, suffered a decade-long campaign of harassment and death threats by Jones’ followers, attorney Chris Mattei said.

“Every single one of these families (was) drowning in grief, and Alex Jones put his foot right on top of them,” Mattei told jurors.

Jones' lawyer countered during his closing arguments that the plaintiffs had shown scant evidence of quantifiable losses.

The attorney, Norman Pattis, urged jurors to ignore the political undercurrents in the case.

"This is not a case about politics," Pattis said. "It’s about how much to compensate the plaintiffs."

In August, another jury found that Jones and his company must pay $49.3 million to Sandy Hook parents in a similar case in Austin, Texas, where the headquarters of Jones' Infowars conspiracy theory website is located.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies