Belfast Telegraph

Holiday jet passengers help restrain man on Belfast-bound flight

By Adrian Rutherford

A Northern Ireland man has been arrested after a terrifying violent outburst in mid-air during a flight.

Passengers were left shaken after the 20-year-old started lashing out while the plane was en route from Turkey to Belfast.

The suspect, who is from the Lurgan area, was arrested after the plane touched down at Belfast International Airport early yesterday.

The drama unfolded after the flight took off from Dalaman, a region on Turkey's Mediterranean coast, around 1.15am yesterday.

According to eyewitnesses, he became violent, disobeying instructions to stay in his seat while lashing out at fellow passengers.

One man who tried to restrain him was allegedly bitten.

At one stage the crew reportedly threatened to turn the plane back.

Belfast man Ivan Moore, who was travelling on the flight with his wife, son and a friend, said it was a frightening experience for passengers.

"There were women and young children on board – it was terrifying for them," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

Mr Moore claimed the man was drunk when he boarded the plane and tried to get out of his seat shortly after the plane took off.

"We knew straight away that he was trouble," he added. "I said to my wife that I hope he wouldn't sit near us, but then he sat in the seat behind us. When the plane took off he was out of his seat trying to access the toilet before the seatbelt signs went out, and the whole thing just escalated.

"He started to kick and thump the seat. I wasn't going to put up with it for four-and-a-half hours."

Mr Moore said he and his friend, Mark, decided to take action after things threatened to get out of control.

"My friend was nearby, and we both looked at each other. He was lashing out and I was worried one of the stewardesses would get hurt," he added. "I've seen drunk men but this guy was crazy. We tried to hold him down and keep him quiet.

"The stewardesses told us they had restraints, they brought them down and we tried to cuff his arms.

"At one stage he tried to bite me on the arm. He bit my friend but eventually we got him cuffed and secured him to the seat."

The plane landed around 4.30am. Passengers were quickly taken off and the suspect was arrested.

A PSNI spokesperson said: "A 20-year-old man from Lurgan was arrested at 4.45am this morning at Belfast International Airport after causing a disturbance on a flight from Turkey.

"He was restrained by passengers after becoming violent on the flight.

"He has now been released pending further inquiries."

A spokesperson for Thomas Cook Airlines said: "We operate a zero tolerance policy towards any disruptive or aggressive behaviour on board our aircraft which may affect the health, safety and wellbeing of other passengers and our crew."

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