A Leeds man charged with a public order offence after a bottle was thrown at the start of the men’s Olympic 100m final pleaded not guilty when he appeared in court today.
Ashley Gill-Webb, 34, from South Milford, near Leeds, was arrested after the incident last night at the Olympic Stadium, which led to Dutch world judo champion Edith Bosch intervening.
Gill-Webb was charged with using threatening words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress under Section 4A of the Public Order Act but denied the offence when he appeared at Stratford Magistrates’ Court in east London this afternoon.
The 34-year-old, who wore a white T-shirt with the slogan “Veni, Vidi, Vino” in court, spoke only to confirm his personal details and to plead not guilty.
The court heard his case is that he did not throw the bottle. He will now stand trial at Thames Magistrates’ Court on September 3.
District Judge Angus Hamilton granted Gill-Webb bail on condition that he does not enter any Olympic venue, including the whole of the Olympic Park, and that he resides at his address in Cornmill Court, South Milford, with the exception of the evening before his trial on September 3.
Ms Bosch has told how she intervened after the incident.
The 32-year-old was standing close by when a green plastic drink bottle was thrown from the stands behind the start line.
Last night the judoka tweeted: “A drunken spectator threw a bottle onto the track! I HAVE BEATEN HIM... unbelievable.”
Today she said: “There was a lot of commotion and I was just there to watch a fantastic event.
“Somebody came around who was having ‘behaviour problems’, was disrespectful in a big way.
“I did like any other person would have done, I corrected it. I just said, ‘man you’re crazy, what are you doing?’
“We are here for Olympic heroes, people who are performing on the highest level, and we have to honour them, not disrespect them.”
She said she “pushed him away hard”, adding: “I cannot understand that somebody could do such a thing.
“The one thing I’m most sad about is due to all the commotion, due to this guy, I missed out on the 100m,” she said.
“I could ask Usain Bolt to run it again but I don’t think he’s going to do that.”
She said she had not used any judo moves, adding: “I’m a judoka but normally I never do judo. I just corrected the guy as a normal person, anybody else would have done that, and I just pushed him away hard. It was a first emotion like everybody else would do.”
Locog chairman Lord Coe said it was “poetic justice” that the man happened to be sitting next to the Dutch judo star.
He said: “It’s not just unacceptable at an Olympic Games but at any sporting event and anybody who does that will be removed.
“There is zero tolerance for anything like that.”
Speaking after last night’s race, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who won, said he had been unaware of the incident.
US sprinter Justin Gatlin, who took bronze, said: “It was a little distraction and I didn’t know what it was.
“But when you’re in those blocks and the whole stadium’s quiet you can hear a pin drop.”
He said the incident had not affected the race: “You just have to block it out and go out there and do what you got to do.”
And Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake said: “I was so focused I didn’t see anything. I was so focused on just running to the line.”
Gill-Webb left court today wearing shades and a grey hooded jacket, with what appeared to be an asthma inhaler in his mouth.
Pursued by photographers and film crews, he broke into a run down Stratford High Street before getting into a taxi.
A man, believed to be his brother, said he did not want to comment when asked outside the defendant’s house in South Milford, adding: “We just want to sort this out.”
Neighbours, who described Gill-Webb as an “ordinary bloke”, said they could not believe he had been arrested.
One man, who did not want to be named, said: “I’ve known him since he was at school.
“He’s got a couple of kids at the primary school and he drives his van off to work. We don’t have a lot to do with him, to be honest.”
Residents said he had lived in the mid-terraced house in Cornmill Court for about four years, and his food vending company van was parked opposite.
Neighbours thought he had played for the South Milford football club in the past.