Ex-EastEnders star who said ‘black lives don’t matter’ given community order

A former EastEnders actress who shouted “black lives don’t matter” during a dispute by the seaside in Essex has been sentenced to a community order.

Katie Jarvis, who played Hayley Slater in the BBC soap from 2018 to 2019, got into a dispute with a group of women outside a fish and chip restaurant in Southend-on-Sea at around 7.30pm on July 31 2020.

Cyrus Shroff, prosecuting, said tensions flared after someone tried to lift an empty chair from a table with four seats where Michelle Antonio, who is black, was sitting with two others of her group of four people.

He told Basildon Crown Court that Ms Antonio had said the chair was being used, then saw the 30-year-old defendant and told her that she could not take the seat as it was needed by a fourth person in her party.

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 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”.

Mr Shroff said Ms Antonio said that Jarvis’s comments made her “feel disgusted and angry”, and that she “can’t believe in 2020 these things are still being said”.

He said that at around 9.15pm bouncer Toby Groom denied Jarvis entry to the Hope Hotel, and when she returned an hour later Mr Groom again asked her to leave.

“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.

“He notified the police and soon after that at about 11pm officers arrested Ms Jarvis.”

He said that Jarvis, of Rainham, east London, told officers “she was racially wrong and she was drunk”.

Katie Jarvis court case
Ex-EastEnders star Katie Jarvis, who has been sentenced at Basildon Crown Court to a community order for racially aggravated harassment and common assault (Joe Giddens/ PA)

Jarvis 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”.

Mr Harte read a statement from Jarvis’s aunt through marriage, Sonja Gater, who is an ambassador for a charity against knives in west London, which said she “knows for a fact” Jarvis is not racist, adding: “I wouldn’t have racist people in my life.”

Mr Harte said the incident had caused Jarvis “enormous hardship”.

“The last movie she shot was in 2020,” he said.

“She hasn’t worked in films since.

“She tried to get a job in The Range to make ends meet, she went for a four-hour shift to try out.”

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.

The actress had also been charged with two counts of assault by beating, which she denied.

The judge instructed that one of these counts lie on the file, with a not guilty verdict recorded in respect of the second.