Drunk easyJet passenger, 50, is facing jail for grabbing air hostess by the throat after she told him off for clambering over two people on flight to Malaga for his birthday
- Colin Smith lashed out at easyJet cabin crew member Carley Griffiths
- He grabbed Ms Griffiths by the throat while trying to stagger to the jet’s toilet
- Smith admitted in court being drunk on an aircraft and assault by beating
- Smith was warned he faced a possible custodial sentence in the New Year
A charity worker was facing up to two years in jail today after he got drunk on a holiday jet then grabbed an air hostess by the throat whilst he was embarking on a trip to Malta to celebrate his 50th birthday.
Colin Smith lashed out at easyJet attendant Carley Griffiths when she asked him to be careful as he clambered over two other people to stagger to the lavatory.
During the mid-air assault, Miss Griffiths pushed Smith away to get away from him but as a result he tumbled in a drunken stupor on top of another passenger and he had to be restrained.
As he was being led off the aircraft by police, his long-term partner Hayley Whitehand who had been travelling with him told staff: ‘I told him he shouldn’t drink whiskey.’
Colin Smith lashed out at easyJet attendant Carley Griffiths when she asked him to be careful as he clambered over two other people to stagger to the lavatory on a flight from Manchester to Malta
Smith admitted being drunk on an aircraft and assault by beating on board the easyJet flight between Manchester and Malta on March 28 this year, file photograph
Mr Smith’s court appearance was the latest act of violence on an easyJet flight to or from Manchester.
It emerged Smith, from Hull had earlier bought two bottles of Famous Grouse from duty free ahead of the flight then drank three quarters of one of the bottles – claiming he had fear of flying. He admitted being ‘9/10 drunk’ in police interview.
At Minshull Street Crown Court Manchester, Smith admitted being drunk on aircraft and assault by beating. He was warned he faced jail but was bailed for sentencing in the new year after claiming he was the ‘rock’ in his family and helped care for Miss Whitehead’s severely disabled daughter and also her mother who has advanced dementia.
The incident occured in March 28 this year after Smith and Miss Whitehead booked the trip for both his birthday and as a break from caring for her relatives. Trouble began as flight EZY 1997 from Manchester was making its descent into Malta.
Mr Edmund Potts prosecuting said: ‘Miss Griffiths who had worked for Easyjet for eight years and her colleague were going about their duties preparing for landing and checking passengers had their seatbelts on when she saw the defendant get up and climb past his two neighbouring passengers into the aisle.
At Minshull Street Crown Court Manchester, Smith admitted being drunk on aircraft and assault by beating
Smith, pictured outside Minshull Street Crown Court, was warned by Judge Angela Nield that he may be jailed when he returns for sentencing in the New Year
‘She assumed he was going to the toilet and told him to be careful as the plane was about to land. But the defendant looked at her in a vacant manner and without warning grabbed her around the neck with both hands.
‘She shouted at him: ‘what are you are doing? – I don’t even know you’ and pushed him away but he came at her again and tried to hit her causing her to retreat backwards down the aisle.
‘In an effort to defend herself Miss Griffiths pushed the defendant away but it caused him to fall onto another seated passenger. Two other passengers restrained him whilst the defendant continued lashing out at Miss Griffiths with his arms.
‘Another passenger raised concerns he might be having a seizure but it was quickly established he was simply drunk. When the attendants spoke to the defendant ‘s partner to ascertain whether he was suffering from any medical condition, she replied; ‘I told him not to drink whiskey.’
‘The defendant was escorted off the plane by police in a clearly intoxicated state. He returned to the UK on April 7 on a Jet2 flight and was arrested and interviewed.
‘He admitted the offences saying he had bought two bottles of Famous Grouse whiskey in Manchester Airport duty free shopping then drunk over three quarters of one of these bottles. When asked on what scale he was in terms of drunkenness from 1-10, he said he was 9/10 drunk.’
In a statement Miss Griffiths said: ‘I was upset and anxious after what happened on the flight and initially i was not wanting to return to work as I was scared of further assaults in the future.’ The court heard she was able to ‘somewhat reluctantly’ fly back from Malta.
In mitigation defence counsel Collette Renton said: ‘He has a fear of flying which contributed to his drinking and his memory and recollection of this offence is fragmented due to his intoxication that day.
‘It is perhaps fortunate this incident occurred towards the end of the flight when he could be removed from the aircraft soon afterwards. But he does apologise for the impact he has caused.’
Miss Renton added: ‘He helps care for his partner’s daughter who is severely mentally and physically disabled and he helps care for partner’s mother who is in advanced stages of dementia.
‘His partner also has mental health issues and this defendant represents her ‘rock’ in both the practical and emotional sense. He has done charity work and has been good friend to others. Prison for him would result in significant harmful impact on others.
‘The holiday was a long pre-arranged break in caring responsibilities for one week to celebrate the defendant’s 50th birthday.
‘Regrettably that degree of relief perhaps contributed to his level of intoxication – but this is also set against a background of very intense caring responsibilities.’
Adjourning the case for Smith to gather documentation to back up his mitigation claims, Judge Angela Nield said: ‘Even if I accept what is said on his behalf, I have to balance that against the demand for a deterrent custodial sentence. I make no promises as to the ultimate sentence.’