Courts

Friday 11 July 2014

The astonishing fall from grace of fashion icon Lauren's niece

From Manhattan to a courtroom in a pub in Clare

Published 08/01/2014|02:30

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Jennifer Lauren leaving court, which was held (inset) in the Brian Boru pub
Jennifer Lauren leaving court, which was held (inset) in the Brian Boru pub

JENNIFER Lauren sat in the makeshift courtroom in the basement of a rural pub and was forced to reflect on a startling sequence of events over the previous 24 hours.

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The jet-setting member of the Lauren fashion dynasty was reduced to tears as she prepared to face three charges relating to an air-rage incident on a transatlantic flight.

The 41-year-old jewellery designer and niece of Ralph Lauren had been arrested for being so drunk on board a Delta Airlines flight that crew feared she could be a danger to herself or another person.

It led to the flight, bound for New York from Barcelona, being diverted to Shannon Airport where Ms Lauren was arrested on Monday.

And a packed court squeezed into the function room of the Brian Boru on the Hill pub in Ballina, Co Tipperary, heard how she had told arresting gardai: "Can you say that in English please?"

After spending the night in a cell in Shannon garda station, Ms Lauren, with an address on East 65th Street, New York, was brought to Killaloe District Court, which was sitting in the pub. The tables and chairs did little to hide the true nature of the premises. A bar to the side of the room was cordoned off with wire mesh while the entire proceedings were lit by spot lighting.

A sign outside the pub urges customers to "Eat, party and celebrate like a king".

But Ms Lauren's demeanour was muted, as she was brought in front of a large media presence and members of the public seeking a glance of the famous defendant.

The court heard that Ms Lauren was facing three changes in relation to an air-rage incident. These involved being drunk and breaching the peace during the DL477 Delta Airlines flight.

Sharon Curely, defence solicitor for the jewellery designer, indicated that her client would enter a guilty plea to all charges.

However, Judge Patrick Durcan refused to deal with the plea yesterday, adjourning the case to today's sitting of Ennis District Court.

He asked the defence counsel to liaise with gardai to ascertain the full cost of Ms Lauren's behaviour.

Discommoded passengers who may have faced delays, costs incurred by the airline, and costs to the State as a result of the incident, are all to be presented to the court today. "These are the issues that have to be addressed and the court will have to be satisfied before it can be discharged," he added.

During the brief hearing, the court heard evidence from Garda Evette Walsh of Shannon garda station.

She gave evidence of arresting the accused at Shannon Airport at 2.05pm on Monday, at which time Ms Lauren replied: "Can you say that in English please."

During the evidence, Judge Durcan asked the garda to repeat herself. Ms Lauren was later charged at Shannon garda station and made no reply after each charge, the court heard.

The jewellery designer was charged with being intoxicated to such an extent as would give rise to a reasonable apprehension that she might endanger herself or another person on board the aircraft.

She was further charged with engaging in behaviour likely to cause serious offence or annoyance to any person on board the aircraft, having been requested by a member of the crew of the aircraft to cease such behaviour.

Ms Lauren was also charged with a breach of the peace by engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour.

All three charges relate to the Air Navigation and Transport Act 1973.

Dressed head to toe in black, sporting a classic black dress, boots and full-length coat and carrying a black leather bag, the jewellery designer sat to the side of the room next to two female gardai who escorted her into the room.

A young female defendant in handcuffs sat in front of her.

Prior to the case beginning, the 41-year-old became emotional, wiping away tears, as friends whom she had been travelling with spoke with her. She spoke only briefly during the case to confirm her nationality as American, that she held no other nationalities, and that she had no other passport.

Judge Durcan rejected an offer of an €800 lodgment for bail made by Ms Curley. He consented to bail on a bond of €2,500.

CUSTODY

The jewellery designer was ordered to sign on last night between 6pm and 9pm at Shannon garda station.

She confirmed to the court that she would spend the night at the Oakwood Arms hotel in Shannon, where her travelling companion had spent the previous night while she was in custody.

After a short break, a friend of Ms Lauren's returned to court with the €2,500 bail bond in cash and the jewellery designer left the court with friends travelling in a black SUV.

The incident occurred on Delta Airlines flight DL477 from Barcelona to New York on Monday afternoon. The flight, which had 209 passengers and crew on board, was diverted to Shannon Airport as a result of Ms Lauren's behaviour.

Ms Lauren was arrested by Shannon gardai after the plane landed at 1.47pm. She was brought to Shannon garda station where she was met by a representative of the US embassy here in Ireland.

She will appear before Ennis District Court later this morning.

Caroline Crawford

Irish Independent

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