James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Ex-EastEnders star shouted 'black lives don't matter' in drunken chip shop row
20 April 2022, 19:23
A former EastEnders actress who drunkenly shouted "black lives don't matter" during a fight in a chip shop has been given a community order.
Listen to this article
Katie Jarvis, who played Hayley Slater in the BBC soap in 2018 and 2019, was involved in an altercation with a group of women at a fish and chip shop in Essex, in July 2020.
The row erupted when someone tried to take an empty chair from a table with four seats where Michelle Antonio was sitting with others.
Ms Antonio, who's black, said the seat was being kept for one of her friends, before Jarvis began shouting "black lives don't matter" and a number of other racist slurs.
Cyrus Shroff, prosecuting, told Basildon Crown Court that Ms Antonio had said the chair was being used.
He said differing accounts have been provided over what happened next, with Jarvis claiming Ms Antonio was "aggressive", which Ms Antonio denies.
Mr Shroff said Jarvis, of Rainham, east London, walked off, shouting "black lives don't matter anyway", "black c****" and "I'm a celebrity".
He said it "appears a fight broke out between the parties".
Ms Antonio said that Jarvis' comments made her "feel disgusted and angry", and that she "can't believe in 2020 these things are still being said", Mr Shroff said.
The fight broke out shortly after 7pm on July 31, with Jarvis being arrested a couple of hours later for shouting abuse and spitting at a bouncer.
At around 9.15pm bouncer Toby Groom denied Jarvis entry to the Hope Hotel, and when she returned an hour later she was again asked to leave, Mr Shroff said.
"She started shouting abuse again towards him", Mr Shroff said.
"She then spat towards him.
"It's right to say there's no suggestion it connected to him."
She was arrested at around 11pm.
Mr Shroff said that Jarvis told officers "she was racially wrong and she was drunk".
She admitted on Tuesday to racially aggravated harassment and common assault, on what was due to be the first day of her trial, and was sentenced the following day.
Patrick Harte, mitigating, said Jarvis "maintains she didn't physically assault anyone that day".
He said she was "sorry to the people who heard her use the awful language on that day, and to Mr Groom the doorman, who was simply doing his job".
Mr Harte said Jarvis "drinks very rarely" and on the day in question "had been in London - she had a number of successful interviews for films".
"She was celebrating," he said.
"She bumped into a friend she hadn't seen since school days. There were high spirits."
He said Jarvis alleges she did not use the language "until after the argument turned physical", and that she responded "appallingly" after a "pile on" when four or five women jumped on her.
He said the "language used isn't what she believes".
A statement from Jarvis' aunt through marriage, Sonja Gater, who is an ambassador for a charity against knives in west London, said she "knows for a fact" Jarvis is not racist, adding: "I wouldn't have racist people in my life."
The incident had caused Jarvis "enormous hardship", Mr Harte said, with her last film work in 2020.
"She tried to get a job in The Range to make ends meet, she went for a four-hour shift to try out," he explained.
He said the shift appeared to go well and she was given a uniform, but that "the CEO got wind of her employment and she was sacked".
Judge Samantha Leigh, sentencing, noted that Jarvis had no previous convictions as an adult and said that as she was in the "public eye you have been subjected to abuse on social media".
She sentenced Jarvis to a two-year community order, with 200 hours of unpaid work and a requirement to complete 60 days of specified activities.
Jarvis tearfully told the judge "thank you" after she had been sentenced.