A Ballyclare man who made a “lewd gesture” to a cabin crew member when she asked him to fasten his seat belt has been put on probation for two years.
Antrim Magistrates Court heard on Tuesday that 37-year-old Thomas McMullan was “disruptive” on his flight back from Amsterdam on July 10 this year and had been “swearing loudly” having drunk a bottle of duty free brandy.
A prosecution lawyer told the court two members of the cabin crew had asked him to fasten his seat belt but he told the second lady “’you f****** do it then’ and made a lewd gesture pointing at his crotch”.
Police were called and they met the flight when it landed at Belfast International Airport.
“They spoke to the captain who told them the crew had found the ordeal distressing,” said the lawyer, adding that despite being warned he would be arrested if he didn’t stop swearing, a “very unsteady” McMullan “was continually swearing” as he was escorted through the busy terminal.
Arrested and cautioned, McMullan told cops “I’m sorry” but was not fit to be interviewed until the following day when he told officers he had drunk the bottle of brandy and had taken a “cocktail of medication”.
At an earlier hearing McMullan, from the Green Road in Ballyclare, pleaded guilty to three charges of using disorderly behaviour on an aircraft and in the airport and failing to obey the lawful command of an aircraft commander.
At the hearing on Tuesday, his defence solicitor conceded it was “very poor behaviour” by McMullan, who has a history of psychiatric problems.
Deputy District Judge Peter Prenter questioned whether, given his choice of holiday destination to Amsterdam, McMullan was under the influence of “just drink” but the lawyer retorted “he maybe had gone to the Ann Frank museum.”
The lawyer submitted that McMullan “has been very settled over a long number of years” and that on the day of the incident, “had self medicated” with the brandy.
Imposing the probation order and fines totalling £200 along with a £15 offender levy, Judge Prenter told McMullan “surely you should know that [self medicating] just doesn’t work”.
He said there was “no question” of violence being used in the incident or the plane having to be diverted but that his behaviour “I’m sure was very upsetting for the other passengers”.