England

Olympic 100m final bottle thrower Ashley Gill-Webb sentenced

Ashley Gill-Webb
Image caption Ashley Gill-Webb used an old ticket to get into the park and the stadium

A man who threw a plastic beer bottle on to the track at the start of the men's 100m final at the London Olympics has been given a community order.

Ashley Gill-Webb, 34 of South Milford, North Yorkshire, who has bipolar disorder, was given an eight-week sentence at Thames Magistrates' Court.

Gill-Webb, who also shouted at athletes including Usain Bolt, was earlier found guilty of two public order offences.

District Judge William Ashworth said he had tarnished the spirit of the Games.

'Manic episode'

"Your intention was to target the highest-profile event at the London Olympics and put off Usain Bolt," he said.

"The potential harm of triggering a false start was significant. By good fortune, you failed.

"You did, however, spoil the occasion for some spectators and tarnish the spirit of the Games."

Image caption The bottle landed on the track just before the sprinters began the 100m final

Bolt, the world record-holder and defending champion, won the race in 9.63 seconds, ahead of Jamaican team-mate and 2011 world champion Yohan Blake.

The US's Justin Gatlin won bronze.

The court heard that Gill-Webb pushed his way to the front of an exclusive seating area at the stadium and started shouting: "Usain, I want you to lose."

Witness Farzin Mirshahi heard Gill-Webb yell: "Believe in Blake, no Usain."

Gill-Webb threw the bottle just before the race started.

Edith Bosch, Dutch judo champion and London 2012 70kg bronze medallist, who confronted Gill-Webb about the bottle throwing, said the incident made her miss the race.

Gill-Webb was escorted from the stadium and arrested.

The court heard he used an old ticket to get into the Olympic Park, and then the stadium on 5 August.

Gill-Webb, who did not give evidence during his trial, originally denied throwing the bottle, but his DNA was found on it.

He later said he could not remember the incident.

Image caption After he threw the bottle Gill-Webb was escorted from the stadium and arrested

His lawyers had said he was suffering from a "manic episode" at the time.

The judge said Gill-Webb's behaviour was "serious" enough to demand punishment, but that he thought he was unlikely to offend again.

Prosecutor Helen Shaw said the high-profile nature of the incident and the fact that the world was watching were aggravating factors, along with the location from which the bottle was hurled.

It was a "once-in-a-four-year event watched by millions of people around the world", she said.

"Some of the people who were in that area missed the event and had paid up to £4,000 a ticket," she added.

Tom Barley, defending, said Gill-Webb risked inflicting "massive embarrassment on the country" by his behaviour.

The court heard he had lost his job because of the negative publicity triggered by the case.

Noting that alcohol did not have any influence, Mr Barley suggested that for someone dealing with a mental illness on a day-to-day basis, "it must have been the worst day for it to happen, in the 100m final"

Gill-Webb will be electronically-monitored and be subject to a 19:00 to 07:00 curfew. He was also ordered to pay a £1,500 contribution to costs.

Bolt and Blake said they had been unaware of the incident.

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