A SOCIALITE accused of letting a stranger fondle her breasts during a flight was yesterday cleared of being drunk on board an aircraft.
Clare Irby, a descendant of the Guinness brewing family, was accused of drinking up to 12 glasses of red wine on the flight from Bangalore, India, to London’s Heathrow Airport on March 26.
But the jury at Isleworth Crown Court, west London, took just 40 minutes to unanimously find her not guilty of being drunk on board an aircraft.
Mother-of-one Irby denied being drunk, saying she was suffering from sleep deprivation after getting only two and a half hours’ sleep in 48 hours.
She said she had only drunk “four or five” glasses of wine and was “tipsy” but not drunk and had full control of her faculties.
Judge John Dennis told the jurors they had to decide whether Irby was drunk on an aircraft while in the “territorial jurisdiction” of Britain.
This started about 20 minutes before the 10 and a half hour flight landed at Heathrow at about 5pm, he said.
Irby was banned from being served any alcohol after the first four hours of the flight — about 10.30am British time — and a police doctor declared she was sober and fit to be interviewed shortly before 10pm.
Irby denied letting fellow passenger Daniel Melia, 36, touch her breast, and said she did not strip to her underwear in order to change from her yellow skirt into warmer black leggings.
“He didn’t touch me in any inappropriate manner. He didn’t touch my breasts,” she said.
Irby said she was merely “relaxed” and “tipsy” after drinking just four or five glasses of red wine and was trying to care for her two-year-old son while suffering from sleep deprivation.
The accusations against her were “outrageous” and “gobsmacking”, she said.
“I was a bit relaxed but I was certainly very together,” she said.
“I was exhausted beyond belief. I was really, really tired.”
Asked why she told police who interviewed her at Heathrow that her head was “spinning”, she said it was from the tiredness.
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