Olympic Stadium bottle thrower ‘was suffering from manic episode’
21:19 03 January 2013
A man who shouted abuse at Usain Bolt before throwing a beer bottle at athletes at the men’s 100m Olympic final used an old ticket to get in, a court heard today.
Ashley Gill-Webb, 34, used an old ticket to get into the Olympic Park, and then the stadium, where he hurled abuse at the Jamaican sprinter, Stratford Magistrates’ Court was told.
Gill-Webb, who was ticketless, pushed his way to the front of an exclusive seating area and started shouting taunts.
He then threw the beer bottle as the race - which Bolt went on to win in 9.63 seconds - started at the Olympic Stadium.
Gill-Webb, from South Milford, near Leeds, was confronted by Dutch judoka Edith Bosch, then restrained by Locog volunteers and arrested.
The court heard that Gill-Webb, who cannot remember throwing the bottle, had an urge to be involved in the Olympics on the day.
Questioning defence psychiatrist Dr Robert Adams, prosecutor Neil King described how Gill-Webb used an old ticket to get past tight security.
He said: “He passed through several steps waving an old ticket in front of people to get past security and that was a deliberate act...
“He thought ‘I want to get into the Olympics and I will do it by waving this ticket and it worked’.”
But Dr Adams told the court: “I don’t believe that he expected to get into the Olympic Park. I think he thought he would try it.
“He got into the Olympic Park and was in the Olympic Park for quite a while, and then he thought ‘I have got into the Olympic Park, maybe I can get into the stadium’.”
But consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Richard Latham, for the prosecution, said although he agreed Gill-Webb was suffering from a manic episode, making him impulsive, elated, over-confident, and behaving unpredictably, that did not mean he was unable to form an intention.
“He was able to form an intention to do lots of other things, lots of other quite purposeful things, including getting to where he got to, which is a pretty staggering feat given the level of security there was there,” he said.
“He got to that position and that demonstrated a pretty impressive mental capacity, I would say.”
Witnesses saw Gill-Webb shouting at finalists including Bolt, fellow Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake, and US sprinter Justin Gatlin.
Student Farzin Mirshahi heard him yell: “Believe in Blake, no Usain.”
Her brother Kiya Mirshahi, also a student, heard Gill-Webb shout: “Usain, no, Justin, you are a druggie, believe in Blake, no Usain, no.”
Security guard Robert Spears escorted him from the stadium with colleagues after he threw the bottle and said Gill-Webb did not try to explain himself, but demanded to know who had won the race.
Gill-Webb was arrested and taken to a nearby police station, where his behaviour was described as “somewhat unusual”, the court heard.
The defendant told police he had nothing to do with throwing the bottle but had been “quite hyper” at the time.
His DNA was later found on the bottle, but Detective Constable Kevin Guest said police never found a ticket for him.
Gill-Webb, who the court heard had manic episodes in 1997 and 1999, did not tell police about any mental health issues.
He gave some “no comment” answers in interview, but suggested he was Scottish actor Alan Cumming, and signed his statement with the actor’s name, the court heard.
Gill-Webb, who has since lost his job, was sectioned after his first case management hearing at court, and was treated by Dr Adams at the Bootham Park Hospital in York.
The 34-year-old denies intending to cause 100m finalists harassment, alarm or distress by using threatening, abusive or disorderly behaviour, thereby causing spectators present at the Olympic Park harassment, alarm or distress, contrary to Section 4(a) of the Public Order Act 1986.
He also denies an alternative charge of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress, contrary to Section 5 of the act.
The case was adjourned until next Friday at 10am.
Gill-Webb was granted bail providing he stays at his own home address, or at hospital, except on the night before the trial continues.