Men could be jailed after in-flight antics

W29528H13  Gatwick Airport Feature. ENGPPP00120130110125442
W29528H13 Gatwick Airport Feature. ENGPPP00120130110125442

TWO men from Worthing and Lancing have been fined by a Bermudian court after being thrown-off a flight for threatening crew members.

Jamie Richardson, 38, from Lancing, pleaded guilty to using threatening behaviour on Thomson Airways Flight 022 by throwing peanuts and a pound coin at a flight attendant.

Daniel Taylor, 37, from Worthing, pleaded guilty to using threatening behaviour by hitting himself on the head with clenched fists and taking an aggressive stance towards cabin management.

They were each fined $3,000 after they were arrested coming off the Mexico-bound flight last Sunday and face prison if they cannot pay the fine.

Prosecutor Larissa Burgess told the court that the men appeared intoxicated when they boarded the flight.

She said that they were seated apart, but kept moving around asking for drinks and, at one point, Taylor stepped on a flight attendant’s foot.

The court heard that the men then began shouting and swearing, and upon being told to stop doing so, they exclaimed ‘we are drug dealers’.

Ms Burgess added that Richardson then wanted to buy peanuts from a flight attendant and Taylor threw his wallet across the cabin to Richardson — when Richardson threw it back it hit a passenger on the head.

Ms Burgess said they were told that this was unacceptable behaviour and Taylor proceeded to throw the peanuts and pound coins at the flight attendant, stating that he did not want either.

Taylor then refused a final written warning from the flight attendant, who went to notify the pilot of the incident.

The pilot decided to divert the flight to Bermuda, where the defendants were arrested and crew statements were taken.

In court, Richardson said that he regretted the incident and that he had mixed sleeping pills, which he took because he had a fear of flying, and vodka, which led to his behaviour.

Taylor, who said he also took sleeping pills, added: “It was the most embarrassing day of my life.”

Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo fined both men $3,000 with four months in prison in default of payment.

Duty counsel Alexandra Wheatley asked Mr Tokunbo to reconsider the amount because the defendants instructed her that they had only about $700 in cash between them.

But Mr Tokunbo refused the request and said: “This kind of behaviour is not acceptable.”

He added that taking sleeping pills was not an excuse and that the fine was lenient enough.

“In these times it could be a lot harsher — you can’t mess around in the air these days,” he added.

Both men are in the process of trying to raise the funds.

A spokesman for Thomson Airways said it operated a zero-tolerance policy.

He said: “Thomson Airways would like to apologise for any inconvenience experienced by passengers on board flight TOM022 from London Gatwick Airport to Cancun.

“We operate a zero tolerance policy in relation to any disruptive behaviour. The passengers in question were removed from the aircraft and met by police. The flight departed within two hours to ensure the other customers could get away on their holiday as soon as possible.”