Irish DJ Neil Prendeville in bid to save career after jet sex act accusation
A radio broadcaster who allegedly masturbated in front of horrified passengers on an Aer Lingus flight launched a PR blitz yesterday to salvage his career.
But Neil Prendeville, who will meet his bosses this week to discuss the incident, still insisted he had no memory of what occurred and had to accept what was alleged -- "if that is what happened".
The 49-year-old, in a round of carefully orchestrated interviews, spoke to four newspapers and told all of them he had felt suicidal over the incident.
It emerged last week that the 96fm DJ allegedly exposed himself and then masturbated on a Heathrow to Cork flight on October 19.
Sitting next to him on the flight was 'Irish Examiner' reporter Niamh Hennessy, who was in London with a group of Cork journalists and business people including Mr Prendeville.
A garda investigation is now under way following formal complaints from Aer Lingus stewardesses. The two passengers seated beside the Cork radio personality have already given statements to gardai.
Mr Prendeville will be asked to present himself at Togher garda station for questioning in the next three weeks.
The star has revealed he will not contest any action taken against him. "I am not going to be putting up any sort of defence -- I hold my hand up and say 'If this is what happened, I take responsibility'."
The broadcaster -- who earns ?150,000-plus a year for his morning chat show -- has spent the past few days at the Wicklow home of his solicitor, Gerald Kean, in a bid to shield his family from the media.
He admitted there had been times over the past five days when he wondered if it would be better if he were not around. "I have felt suicidal -- there have been black times. As day followed night, it just seemed to be getting worse," he said.
Mr Prendeville insisted he has absolutely no recollection of events on the Aer Lingus flight that night after taking a cocktail of beer, wine and painkillers for a neck injury.
He said he was shocked and horrified when the details of the lewd act were later relayed to him. "I thought that was it for everything -- including my ability to look my wife and children in the face," he said.
He admitted that his wife only found out about the incident 24 hours before a newspaper published the story. "She is heartbroken. Such damage and such carnage -- I have a terrible sense of failure," he said.
Mr Prendeville said he had never had a blackout before -- and did not combine alcohol or painkillers on a regular basis. He also vehemently denied ever taking drugs such as cocaine.
The star will now have face-to-face talks with his 96FM and UTV bosses this week.
It is believed station bosses are monitoring the controversy in a bid to gauge the potential implications of the broadcaster resuming his show.