'F*** off, I'm an honours student' - Northern Ireland pianist fined for drunken air rage incident on easyJet flight
A pianist who touched hearts with his musical tribute to his late mother last week has been convicted of being drunk and disorderly on a flight.
Lee McVicker (23) was arrested at Manchester Airport on Sunday following a row with staff, who accused him of smoking. The musician, from Bushmills, had been travelling to York to play at a wedding yesterday.
McVicker, a former Irish Guard, appeared before Manchester Magistrates Court on Monday.
The court heard how he had been drinking with an old friend before the flight. He was arrested in the terminal building at Manchester after arriving for being drunk and for swearing.
Prosecutor Risha Seth told the court: "It was 5.10pm on December 17, 2017. Officers on patrol at Manchester Airport were called to attend at Terminal 1 to reports of a male on an easyJet flight from Belfast.
"A member of cabin crew reported that he was drunk and disorderly on board. Alcohol could be smelled on his breath.
"There were reports that a male had been suspected of smoking on board and being argumentative with the crew. Police arrived and the drunken male was found and spoken to. He was identified by way of his passport. It became apparent McVicker was extremely intoxicated. He was slurring his words and unsteady on his feet. He was consistently swearing, which he was advised not to do.
"He said: "Well I'm f****** sorry, you know what f*** it, f*** off I'm an honours student you f***'.
"Because of his behaviour within the terminal building and disruption he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly."
McVicker pleaded guilty to the offence and was fined £200 as well as being ordered to pay £85 prosecution costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
Magistrate Andrew Jeffay said: "This incident was in an airport and on an airplane.
"You were abusive to the police who, to be fair, have got better things to be doing keeping other people safe rather than dealing with this misbehaviour.
"We have a range of things we can do.
"We do feel this incident is unacceptable to a lot of people.
"The fine will be for £200 - and that represents an expensive drink."
But speaking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, McVicker disputed how the scenario was recalled in court, saying he did not claim to be an honours student, as he didn't know what one was.
He also refutes that he was swearing profusely or smoking on the plane.
"I am sickened that it's all been exaggerated, to be honest," McVicker said.
"I met up with someone at the airport who I hadn't seen in years. We had a few pints.
"I didn't even realise that we were on the same flight.
"We were mid-flight when the air hostess approached us and said that she thought that one of us was smoking on the plane.
"But it wasn't me who was smoking, so I said so - it wasn't anything major.
"I wasn't swearing and saying those things.
"I don't know what an honour's student is, it wasn't me who said it."
The talented pianist, who has fans all over the world, received acclaim just last week when he composed an emotional tribute called Final Goodbye to his mother Denise McGrotty (42), who died suddenly in 2014.
He was only made aware of her funeral two hours before and did not get a chance to say goodbye.
Despite spending a night in the cells, McVicker was released in time to play at the wedding he had been booked for.