Belfast Telegraph

Drunk and unruly airplane passenger avoids prison term

By Paul Higgins

A drunk plane passenger who was "unruly and disruptive" the whole way home from Glasgow has narrowly avoided a jail term.

Eamon Quinn (30) appeared at Antrim Magistrates Court yesterday where District Judge Liam McNally told him he was suspending the four month jail term for two years because of his early plea and "limited record".

At an earlier hearing Quinn, from Strand Mews in Belfast, confessed to disorderly behaviour at Belfast International Airport, behaving in a disorderly manner towards easyJet crew and causing criminal damage to a police cell van.

A prosecution lawyer told the court how the aircraft captain had called police to meet the 7.20am flight from Glasgow on May 25 this year because Quinn had been "disruptive throughout the entirety of the flight".

With the defendant "shouting and swearing" as other passengers disembarked, the lawyer said police repeatedly asked the "aggressive" Quinn to "refrain from swearing", and had to stop him from getting off with his fellow passengers as he "tried to push past" them.

Cabin crew described to the officers that because of his behaviour, Quinn had to be moved from a seat at an emergency exit "because of safety fears", and that throughout the flight he had been "unruly and disruptive".

Arrested and taken off the plane, Quinn asked not to be handcuffed, claiming he "would comply" but, having been put in the back of police van, he kicked at the door and was spitting so much, the vehicle had to be cleaned "because of the amount of saliva".

Having been handcuffed "to the rear" because of his behaviour, Quinn proceeded to "shout and swore the whole way" as he was taken to custody, and wasn't fit to be interviewed until later that day.

In mitigation, his defence barrister said Quinn "regrets his actions and understands that his behaviour was totally reprehensible" but submitted that, coupled with drink and drug addictions, he had mental health issues and his mother died a few months ago.

In an exchange with the lawyer, Judge McNally revealed that Quinn had gone to Glasgow by boat and bus the previous day for a football match but, having been drinking the whole way, he was so drunk he was taken to hospital but had discharged himself. The lawyer agreed Quinn "didn't make the football match" and claimed the incident had been a "wake-up call" for his client.

The judge said it was "quite clear" the case passed the threshold for a custodial sentence - the question for him was whether that should be an immediate or suspended sentence.

"Anyone who had travelled on a plane can understand the difficulty you posed for the staff and other people on the flight by your behaviour," said the judge.

He also ordered Quinn to pay the £15 it cost for the van to be cleaned.

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