A DISTRESSED train passenger told yesterday how Gavin Henson and a group of drunken friends subjected her and fellow travellers to nearly two hours of “hell”.
The 44-year-old South Wales primary school teacher, who was a passenger on a train from London to Cardiff on Sunday, revealed last night how a group of men which included Henson:
- Swore repeatedly at passengers who asked them to be quiet;
- Called one woman a “fat bitch”;
- Showered beer on the seats and each other;
- Played drinking games which involved forfeits of hitting each other or downing beer; and
- Left passengers sobbing in distress.
British Transport Police said yesterday that officers boarded the train at Cardiff Central and, while none of the group were arrested or taken into custody, they will face further questioning.
The “litany of abuse” came just hours after Henson had scored all the points in the Ospreys’ 19-8 victory at Harlequins which saw coach Lyn Jones declare, “His fitness has improved, his confidence has shot up and he’s a different person at the moment.”
And just a day earlier, new Wales coach Warren Gatland said he was offering Henson a clean slate, labelling him “an immense talent”.
Henson, 25, appeared to be getting his faltering rugby career back on track recently and shunning the media limelight in favour of raising his newborn daughter with partner Charlotte Church at their home in St Brides Major.
But last night the Ospreys were forced to apologise for his actions.
The teacher, who asked not to be named, said, “They weren’t inebriated, they were extremely drunk. They couldn’t stand, they absolutely reeked.
“I found them loud and abusive and there were children in there.
“They were playing a card game with forfeits, the most significant was that they had to drink one and a half bottles of beer and if they didn’t Gavin Henson clenched his fist and he hit them in the face.
“I saw it happen at least once but the boy was happy for him to do it.
“Another boy said afterwards he was desperate for a pee and did it on the floor. A lady started speaking to them and they became abusive.
“Then I felt I had to intervene and they began swearing at me, using the ‘f’ word, the ‘c’ word, and they called one lady a ‘fat bitch’.
“Their seats were soaked and they spat on the table. Some forfeits included holding their heads back and pouring beer down each other’s throats.”
The woman said a train conductor tried to defuse the situation but said she did not have the authority to take the alcohol away.
“I got very, very cross, as did other passengers and I said to Gavin Henson, ‘This will do wonders for your image and the police will be waiting for you when you get off.’
“This seemed to sober him up a bit, and he tried telling them [to calm down].
“But one boy was so angry he was spitting when he spoke. I was offered a DNA test by the train manager because I had saliva on me.
“We had 1¾ hours of hell. One lady was profoundly disturbed by the incident. I cried when I got home but she was sobbing as she got off the train.
“I teach in a South Wales primary school and we have 30 profoundly disabled children. We do an awful lot with sports in the school and we look up to these people.
“Gavin is a hero to our children, how could he behave like this?
“If it was just high jinks, I could have lived with it, but this was abuse. I’m not interested in a big expose, this is about a passenger who was frightened. This was unacceptable and there were lots of people who thought like me.”
A British Transport Police spokeswoman said last night, “The 19.37 First Great Western service was met on arrival at Cardiff Central train station by British Transport Police.
“A man aged 25 from Wick, a man aged 26 and a man aged 33 from Bridgend and a man aged 25 from St Brides Major were spoken to.
“All four men are helping police with inquiries.”
She added that the men were not held overnight and were left at Cardiff but will face further questioning.
A spokesperson for the Ospreys said, “After playing a crucial part in what proved to be a particularly satisfying victory for the Ospreys on Sunday afternoon, Gavin made the return journey from London via train with friends who had attended the match in support of the Ospreys.
“Spirits were high amongst the group given the nature of the victory, and the group apologises for any inconvenience caused to fellow passengers.”
He defended the decision to allow Henson to travel back independently of the rest of the squad.
“Each and every request the Ospreys receives from a player to travel home individually is judged and assessed on its own merits,” he added.
A spokesman for Henson last night declined to comment.
A spokesman for First Great Western said, “As far as I’m aware the train manager did what he could and contacted the British Transport Police who spoke to the men involved.”
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