A DRUNK passenger caused air rage uproar during a long-haul flight to Africa, a court heard yesterday.
Lee Thompson and his partner Nicole Burton from Sunderland had spent time in the lounge bar at Manchester Airport before boarding the plane for the nine-hour journey to Kenya.
The 28-year-old became disruptive during the safety demonstration, argued loudly with his partner, complained about the entertainment system and hurled abuse, including homophobic and racist remarks, at passengers and cabin crew.
His behaviour continued to deteriorate until he finally fell asleep, only to be woken by Ms Burton who dropped a bag on his head from an overhead locker, Newcastle Crown Court was told.
The couple, who had smuggled alcohol on board inside Ribena bottles, began to argue again and were finally taken off the plane in Mombasa “to cheers and applause from all the other passengers”, said Bridie Smurthwaite, prosecuting.
Thompson, of Rosedale Street, Sunderland, admitted drunkenness on an aircraft and racially abusive and threatening behaviour in February 2006 and the case was adjourned for reports.
Burton, 34, a mother of three of Penshaw Street, Sunderland, was given a 12-month conditional discharge with £150 costs after admitting drunkenness on an aircraft.
Judge Richard Lowden told her: “It is apparent you were as much affected by Lee Thompson’s outrageous misbehaviour to start with as everybody else.
“But in the end the drink in you caused you also to lose control briefly and show your disgust at the way he was behaving by getting into a fight with him effectively, and thereby contributing to the terrifying experience for everybody else.
“You contributed towards what must have been a ghastly protracted disturbance for very many decent people.”
Vince Ward, defending, said Burton, of previous good character, had been flying to Kenya with Thompson, their one-year-old daughter and other relatives for her mother’s wedding.
He said Thompson’s behaviour had been as much an embarrassment to her as anyone, she had tried to remonstrate with him and finally took refuge in the rear galley and relocated on the plane so she did not have to sit next to him.
But he said after further verbal abuse from Thompson, Burton reached “the end of her tether” and became hysterical.
He added the couple were no longer together although they were trying to remain on amicable terms for the sake of their daughter.