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Northern Ireland solicitor jailed for spitting at Air India crew found dead at Beachy Head

Simone Burns outside Isleworth Crown Court in London in April
Simone Burns outside Isleworth Crown Court in London in April

By Eimear McGovern

A Belfast-born solicitor who was jailed after a tirade on an Air India flight has been found dead at the foot of Beachy Head in Eastbourne.

Police in Sussex confirmed that 50-year-old Simone Burns from Hove, who is also known as Simone O'Broin, was found on June 1.

"'The death is not being treated as suspicious and next of kin have been informed. The matter has been passed to East Sussex coroner's officer," said a spokesperson for the police.

Burns received a six month jail sentence in Isleworth Crown Court in April after she spat at a flight attendant during a tirade in 2018, in which she claimed cabin crew would be shot by the IRA.

Speaking to The Telegraph, a friend, who did not want to be named, said her “world fell apart” after her conviction and she became a target for internet trolls after the four-minute clip of her inebriated rant went viral on social media.

Burns has also been diagnosed with facial skin cancer in 2000 and had undergone multiple biopsies and surgeries. At the time of her sentencing, she was waiting to get a prosthetic nose.

She was initially served three bottles of red wine but declared "I'm a f****** international lawyer" when she was denied more on a nine-hour Air India flight from Mumbai to London on November 11.

The lawyer, who worked with refugees around the world, unleashed a barrage of abuse in a prolonged rant which also saw her spit and grab the arm of the steward, who later received £300 in compensation.

Judge Nicholas Wood described her as a person who did good work throughout her life.

"The fact remains that you were drunk and obnoxious almost from the beginning to the end. You were abusive, contemptuous and confrontational and used appalling language."

He added: "You are a woman, not just of good character but a positive and impeccable character - a righter of wrongs. What this has done, thanks to social media, (has meant) you have had death threats and been a hermit in your home."

She was sentenced to six months for being drunk on an aircraft and two months for assault.

Burns solicitor claimed at the time that her actions were due to a “mixture of altitude, the consumption of drink and anxiety” at the fact that she was likely to miss the funeral of an uncle.

He said she was “totally ashamed of her behaviour”, adding: “This is not a lady who has a drink problem. This is not a woman who has a drug problem. This is totally out of character.”

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