(Advisory: Please note strong language in second paragraph)
LONDON (Reuters) - A British man went on trial on Thursday accused of screaming abuse at Usain Bolt and hurling a beer bottle onto the track as the Olympic men’s 100 metres final was starting, a climactic moment of the London Games in August.
The court heard that the packed 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium had fallen silent in anticipation of the race when Ashley Gill-Webb, 34, began shouting insults like “Usain I want you to lose, Usain you are bad, you are an arsehole”.
The Jamaican sprinter did not hear the abuse or see a green Heineken bottle land behind the starting line, and went on to win the race in 9.63 seconds, the second-fastest time recorded.
Gill-Webb did not have a ticket to attend the 100 metres final but had somehow pushed his way to the front of an exclusive seating area, among members of the Dutch Olympic team.
After his outburst, Gill-Webb was confronted by Dutch judoka Edith Bosch, an Olympic bronze medallist, then restrained by volunteer workers and arrested.
He has pleaded not guilty to a public order offence, the Press Association (PA) reported from Stratford Magistrates’ Court in east London, without saying what penalties he might face.
“In the stadium, along with the many thousands who should have been there legitimately and were watching the race in hushed anticipation, was also Mr Gill-Webb who it is now accepted was unwell at the time,” said prosecutor Neil King.
“This bottle landed extremely close to the athletes and it’s probably luck rather than Mr Gill-Webb’s judgment that it did not do anything far more serious,” said King, quoted by the PA.
In a written witness statement read out in court, Bosch said Gill-Webb’s taunts against Bolt had gone on for about two minutes. As he started to move away after tossing the beer bottle, she confronted him, saying: “Dude, are you crazy?”
“He was trying to walk away so I pushed him hard to stop him,” Bosch said in her statement. “I was angry with what he had done which was so disrespectful.”
“I was sad to miss the 100 metres,” she added.
The court heard that Gill-Webb’s behaviour after he was escorted to a police station had been “somewhat unusual”.
He gave some “no comment” answers to police questions but also handed over a prepared statement signed “Alan Cumming”, the name of a Scottish actor.
He maintained he had nothing to do with throwing the bottle but said he had been “quite hyper” in the stadium.
Prosecutor King said although it was accepted Gill-Webb was unwell at the time, he knew what he was doing and intentionally caused distress to those around him.
Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Jason Webb