The pilot of a Ryanair flight from Tenerife to Cork made contingency plans to divert to Portugal because of the aggression from a Cork man and woman who insisted on having their paninis heated by cabin staff.
Inspector Brian O’Donovan said the pilot, who had been flying for 14 years, had never before put such a contingency plan in place. However, he went on to land the plane in Cork where the man and woman were met by security personnel.
Judge Tim Lucey said: “Other people on the plane are more vulnerable than the staff or pilot. The passengers are very vulnerable. It is very frightening. Everyone is trapped 25,000 or 30,000ft in the air. It ruins people’s holidays to have to deal with that kind of stuff.
“This is a zero tolerance situation as far as this court is concerned.”
Michael Murphy Jr, aged 36, from 36 Riverview Estate, Tower, Blarney, Co Cork, was sentenced to three months in jail and fined €750. The woman with him, Stacey O’Mahony, aged 30, of 1 Innishmore Square, Ballincollig, Co Cork, was fined a total of €500 for the same offences.
Both pleaded guilty to being intoxicated to such an extent that they were a danger to themselves or others on board the flight and engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour with intent to cause a breach of the peace contrary to the Air Navigation and Transport Act.
Insp O’Donovan said the two friends were on board the FR1401 flight from Tenerife to Cork on May 1, 2017.
“They were in possession of two paninis which they wanted to have heated up. They were drinking their own vodka. The paninis were not purchased on the flight. They asked staff to heat them. When they refused they became aggressive and abusive to staff on the flight.
“The captain was made aware of what was happening. This was a major disturbance. The flight captain had over 14 years’ experience. For the first time he put a contingency plan in place to divert to Portugal because of the disturbance being caused by Mr Murphy and Ms O’Mahony.
“The captain told staff to disengage with Mr Murphy and Ms O’Mahony. Mr Murphy was aggressive throughout. They avoided dealing with him. Security arrived when the flight landed. He continued to be aggressive.
“Ms O’Mahony was the lesser evil in this matter and she tried to get Mr Murphy to calm down,” Insp O’Donovan said.
She had previous public order convictions. He had more serious convictions including assault causing harm and received a six-year sentence in the past.
Paula McCarthy, defending O’Mahony, said the two friends had an argument when drinking vodka and the aggression ended up being transferred onto the Ryanair staff.
Michael Quinlan, solicitor for Murphy, agreed that the vodka was probably behind the outburst of aggression. He said Murphy was presently addressing his alcohol problem and was also dealing with other health issues. Judge Lucey said Murphy’s addiction problems were no consolation to other passengers on the flight.
Other charges initially brought against the two accused were withdrawn by the prosecution when they each pleaded guilty to the two charges related to drunkenness and threatening behaviour on board the flight.
The judge set €500 bail for an appeal of the jail sentence.
Judge Lucey said: “As well as being frightening for people close to the disturbance it can be very frightening for people further away on the plane who don’t know how serious it is.”
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