Sentenced: Ex-EastEnders star who said ‘black lives don’t matter’

Former EastEnders star Katie Jarvis, 29, of Rainham, East London, leaves Basildon Crown and County Court

Former EastEnders star Katie Jarvis, 29, of Rainham, East London, leaves Basildon Crown and County Court - Credit: PA

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

Dagenham-born actress Katie Jarvis, who now lives in Rainham, got into a dispute with a group of women outside a fish and chip restaurant in Southend-on-Sea at about 7.30pm on July 31, 2020.

The 30-year-old admitted to racially aggravated harassment and common assault yesterday - April 19 - on what was due to be the first day of her trial at Basildon Crown Court.

Jarvis returned to the same court for sentencing today (April 20).

Prosecutor Cyrus Shroff 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, telling the defendant 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 - who played Hayley Slater in the BBC soap from 2018 to 2019 - claiming Ms Antonio was “aggressive”, which she denies.

Mr Shroff said Jarvis walked off, shouting “black lives don’t matter anyway”, “black c***” and “I’m a celebrity”.

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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”.

Later that evening - at about 9.15pm - bouncer Toby Groom denied Jarvis entry to the Hope Hotel.

When she returned an hour later Mr Groom again asked her to leave.

Mr Shroff said the actress "started shouting abuse again towards him", and proceeded to spit towards him.

“He [Mr Groom] notified the police and soon after that at about 11pm officers arrested Ms Jarvis," added the prosecutor.

Jarvis told officers “she was racially wrong and she was drunk”.

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 where 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' aunt through marriage, Sonja Gater, who is an ambassador for a charity against knives in west London.

Ms Gater said she “knows for a fact” that 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 acknowledged her as someone in the public eye who has been "subjected to abuse on social media”.

She sentenced the actress 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.