Boat race saboteur Trenton Oldfield denies boat race nuisance charge

 

The swimmer who brought this year's Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race to a dramatic halt has denied causing a public nuisance.

The annual contest on the Thames was stopped for around half an hour after Trenton Oldfield was spotted in the vessels' path as crews battled towards the finish.

Although he admits his actions, he contests whether they amount to a public nuisance, Isleworth Crown Court in west London heard.

The 36-year-old Australian, who attended his plea and case management hearing wearing a grey cotton jacket and grey cotton trousers turned up to reveal brightly coloured socks, will stand trial on September 24.

Until then, stringent bail conditions mean the anti-elitist is effectively banned from going anywhere near the Diamond Jubilee or Olympic events, the Henley Royal Regatta in Oxfordshire in late June and early July or Royal Ascot in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in late June.

Judge Anna Guggenheim QC told him he must not go within 100 metres of any road used for the passage of the Olympic torch during the relay, nor within 100 metres of any Olympic venue during the Games.

He is also barred from entering the City of Westminster on days when Jubilee events are taking place in June and during the Trooping of the Colour, nor can he enter the City of London on June 16, when a service takes place at St Paul's Cathedral.

To keep him away from the Jubilee river pageant, he was told he cannot go within 100 metres of the Thames on June 2 and 3.

Oldfield, of Myrdle Street, east London, was accompanied to court by two or three supporters.

He spoke only to confirm his name and enter his plea.

The 158th Boat Race was labelled "possibly the most dramatic in history" by organisers after Oldfield created unprecedented disruption in the Thames near Chiswick Eyot.

It was the first time in its history that the event was disrupted by a swimmer.

This year's contest also saw an Oxford crew member break an oar and the team's bowman Alex Woods collapse after crossing the finishing line. He was later treated in hospital.

Oldfield was seen to swim towards the boats as they were neck and neck between the two and three-mile markers.

Former rower and assistant umpire Sir Matthew Pinsent was said to have alerted fellow adjudicators before the race was stopped and the swimmer, who narrowly avoided the blade of an Oxford oar, was pulled from the river.

He was taken away on a police launch and arrested.

The race was restarted nearly half an hour later, with Cambridge powering on to victory.

PA