Jet2 passenger sentenced for attacking staff and headbutting detective

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By Linsey McNeill
08/02/2023
Home » Jet2 passenger sentenced for attacking staff and headbutting detective

A drunk Jet2 passenger who assaulted airline staff and a police officer after being turned away from his flight has been sentenced at court.

Robert Smith, aged 45, admitted two counts of common assault and assaulting an emergency worker at Leeds Bradford Airport on 18 May last year.

The court heard that Smith first came to the attention of staff when he was seen knocking over a stool in an airport bar as he walked towards the gate after a final call was put out for passengers for a 4.20pm flight to Tenerife.

He denied being drunk and was allowed through to the gate but was then stopped after he was seen bumping into glass panelling along the walkway towards boarding.

When he was told he was intoxicated and could not board the flight, he became abusive to the female member of staff who then radioed for assistance from colleagues.

Her colleagues attended and Smith pleaded to be allowed on the aircraft but was again refused.

He began to walk away but was told he needed to be escorted back to border control and the customer service desk.

He then made threats before attacking staff and needed to be restrained with assistance from bar staff and members of the public until security and police arrived and arrested him.

While Smith was handcuffed, he headbutted a plainclothes detective in the face. He was placed in leg restraints and had to be transferred to a police van in a wheelchair and taken into custody.

Appearing at Leeds Magistrates Court on Monday, he was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, with an alcohol abstinence and monitoring order for 90 days, community service of 250 hours and ordered to pay £120 compensation for each of the three victims.

Sergeant Anne Haydock, of the Leeds Bradford Airport Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “It is a criminal offence to be drunk on an aircraft, and airline staff have the right to refuse passengers who are suspected of being intoxicated from boarding. Disruptive behaviour such as drunkeness can be a potential risk to the safety of the aircraft and can also result in aircraft diversions that cause significant inconvenience and cost.

“Airline staff, and the police officers who support them, should be able to carry out their duties without having to face the kind of completely unnecessary threats and violence they encountered during this incident.

“Incidents such as this will always be treated seriously and attract criminal charges. We hope Smith’s conviction and sentence for these offences will remind people of how unacceptable behaviour such as this is.”

Jet2 MD Phil Ward said: “As a family-friendly airline we take the issue of disruptive passenger behaviour very seriously and have led the way to clamp down on it. We welcome this sentencing, which sends out a strong warning that such behaviour will not be tolerated by the courts.

“Disruptive passenger behaviour can lead to very serious consequences such as banning orders and financial penalties, and as this case proves, severe court action. In the interests of the comfort and well-being of our customers and colleagues onboard, we will continue with our zero tolerance approach to disruptive passenger behaviour.”

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