A 30-YEAR-OLD New Yorker who spat at a flight attendant on board a transatlantic journey has avoided being sent to jail.
At Ennis District Court, Marianne Thatcher, with an address at Park Avenue in Manhattan, walked free and escaped with a €500 fine after pleading guilty to three air-rage related charges.
Insp Tom Kennedy told the special sitting of the court that the captain of the Athens-bound flight from JFK diverted to Shannon Airport yesterday morning 250 miles out due to concerns he had for the other passengers on board because of Ms Thatcher's behaviour.
Insp Kennedy said that Ms Thatcher's alcohol-fuelled behaviour on board "was very offensive and she was aggressive".
The inspector said that at one stage, Ms Thatcher spat at a flight attendant who asked her to sit down. On board the flight were 269 other passengers and 13 crew and Insp Kennedy said that Ms Thatcher came to the attention of flight crew staff four hours into the flight because of her intoxication.
He said that when flight attendants refused to give Ms Thatcher more wine, "she reacted very badly and demanded more".
The inspector said that the situation deteriorated, where Ms Thatcher "became quite abusive and she told staff to f*** off on a number of occasions". He said that Ms Thatcher was then brought to the back of the aircraft where there were two seats vacant and she began to kick out at seating in front of her. The inspector said that Ms Thatcher was then placed in plastic handcuffs by flight attendants.
He said that the captain was being briefed on Ms Thatcher's activity, which lasted for 30 minutes. The plane was 250 miles off the Irish coast when he diverted it to Shannon, where it landed at 4.00am.
Solicitor for Ms Thatcher, Catriona Carmody, told the court "to say that Ms Thatcher is shocked and terrified by her own behaviour is an understatement". She said: "She is a very, very scared young lady who never found herself in a position like this before and has never been inside a court room".
Ms Carmody said that Ms Thatcher was travelling to Greece to be with her mother, who is a psychoanalyst living there, while her father died from pancreatic cancer. She said: "Marianne was working in an art gallery in Paris and she went to New York to look after her father as her parents were separated."
Ms Carmody said that Ms Thatcher nursed her father up to his death and suffered badly from depression after his death.
She said: "Her father's death is an explanation as to how her life has gone wrong in the past few years."
Ms Carmody said that Ms Thatcher had a drink at the airport and had a few more drinks on board. She said: "She began to think about her father and what happened in her life on the plane and she doesn't remember a whole lot after that."
Ms Carmody described Ms Thatcher – who has no previous convictions – as a very talented lady and "is incredibly embarrassed about what happened".
Judge Aeneas McCarthy said: "This is a serious matter where a plane had to divert to Shannon."
Fining Ms Thatcher €500, he said he wouldn't impose a prison term due to the woman's remorse and guilty plea.