Guilty verdict for man who threw bottle at Olympic competitors

Monday 14 January 2013 15.58
Ashley Gill-Webb was suffering a 'manic episode' when the incident occurred
Ashley Gill-Webb was suffering a 'manic episode' when the incident occurred

A man who got into London's Olympic Stadium without a ticket and threw a beer bottle at competitors has been found guilty of public disorder.

Ashley Gill-Webb, 34, used an old ticket to get into the stadium, where he hurled abuse at Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and threw a plastic beer bottle on to the track before the race.

Gill-Webb, from South Milford, near Leeds, was found guilty at Stratford Magistrates' Court, east London, of intending to cause harassment, alarm or distress by using threatening, abusive or disorderly behaviour.

Gill-Webb, who suffers from bipolar affective disorder, pushed his way to the front of an exclusive seating area at the stadium and started shouting: "Usain, I want you to lose. Usain, you are bad, you are an a*******", Stratford Magistrates' Court heard last week.

He then threw the plastic beer bottle as the race - which Bolt won in 9.63 seconds – started.

The 34-year-old was confronted by Dutch judo champion Edith Bosch, then escorted from the stadium and arrested.

Gill-Webb was suffering from a manic episode at the time, with an urge to be "involved" in the Olympics, the court heard.

His lawyers argued that his mental state meant he could not have intended to cause harassment, alarm or distress, but the prosecution said that, although he was unwell, he knew what he was doing.

The court heard that Gill-Webb pushed his way to the front of the exclusive seating area after getting into the stadium.

Prosecutor Neil King described him mingling with members of the Dutch Olympic team, but his "shouting and jostling", then throwing the bottle, led to a confrontation with Ms Bosch.

In a statement, she described how he pushed past her to get to the front of the seating.

"He was shouting specifically at Usain Bolt. Things like 'Usain, I want you to lose. Usain, you are bad, you are an a*******'," she said.

"He repeated these taunts over and over - it went on and on for about two minutes."

She saw Gill-Webb move his arm behind his head, then forwards in a throwing motion, then saw the bottle hit the track, she said.

Ms Bosch confronted him, saying "Dude, are you crazy?"

"He was trying to walk away so I pushed him hard to stop him," she said.

"I was angry with what he had done, which was so disrespectful."

Other witnesses saw Gill-Webb shouting at finalists including Bolt, fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake, and US sprinter Justin Gatlin.

Student Farzin Mirshahi heard him yell: "Believe in Blake, no Usain" while her brother, Kiya Mirshahi, heard: "Usain, no, Justin, you are a druggie, believe in Blake, no Usain, no."

After the incident, Gill-Webb - who the court heard has since lost his job - was escorted from the stadium and then arrested.

His behaviour in police custody was said to be "somewhat unusual", and he told officers that he was Scottish actor Alan Cumming, signing a statement with the star's name.

Gill-Webb, who did not give evidence during his trial, originally denied throwing the bottle, but his DNA was later found on it. He later said he could not remember the incident.

Summing up his case, prosecutor Neil King said video footage showed Gill-Webb looking left and right, "shuffling" behind other people, then surreptitiously throwing the bottle, suggesting he knew what he was doing was wrong, and clearly had intent.

However, Rhiannon Crimmins, defending, said Gill-Webb was mentally ill at the time and the video just showed a man behaving "oddly".

Finding Gill-Webb guilty of both charges, District Judge William Ashworth said: "The video, in my view, clearly shows Mr Gill-Webb checking to see if he is under observation before taking the risk of throwing the bottle.

"I am sure that he was at that point weighing up the chances of being caught."

He said Gill-Webb's actions were "rational and wrong" and intended to cause harassment, alarm and distress.