Ex-EastEnders star Katie Jarvis shouted 'black lives don't matter' in chip shop fight in Essex

  • Katie Jarvis said she was "not a racist" in a statement outside Basildon Crown Court

A former EastEnders actress who shouted "black lives don't matter" during a dispute in Essex has been sentenced to a community order and unpaid work.

Katie Jarvis, who played Hayley Slater in the BBC soap from 2018 to 2019, had previously denied racially aggravated harassment and common assault, which happened in Southend-on-Sea in the summer of 2020.

The 30-year-old, of Rainham, east London, changed her pleas to guilty at Basildon Crown Court on Tuesday, which was due to be the first day of her trial.

She was sentenced to a two year community order, with 200 hours unpaid work and a 60 hours rehabilitation requirement.

In a statement outside the court, Jarvis said she was not racist, adding: "I do take full responsibly for the sickening way I behaved.

"I reacted shamefully and in the heat of the moment I said things that I would regret for the rest of my life."

Fight broke out 'over chair at chip shop'

The dispute happened outside a fish and chip restaurant in Southend-on-Sea at around 7.30pm on 31 July 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".

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.

Mr Shroff said: "She started shouting abuse again towards him.

"She then spat towards him. He notified the police and soon after that at about 11pm officers arrested Ms Jarvis."

'Thank you' to judge after sentence

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".

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".

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.

Jarvis made her debut in the Bafta-winning film Fish Tank in 2009 opposite Michael Fassbender and won a British Independent Film Award for best newcomer.