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`Bawdy' police are cleared in air rage case

TWO POLICE officers and their friend were acquitted yesterday of being drunk on an aircraft after they denied gyrating to the film The Full Monty and misbehaving on a flight from Florida to Manchester. But the judge said they had clearly been bawdy and disruptive.

Inspector David Gareth Perrett, his son, PC Richard Perrett and Peter Beck, a publican, were returning to Manchester from a golfing holiday in Orlando, where they enjoyed a "fabulous time".

They denied drunkenness on an aircraft, using foul language and dancing to the in-flight film during the seven- and-a-half-hour trip. But Mr Justice Ensor said the jury had been merciful and the defendants' conduct was clearly unworthy of the position they held as police officers.

He refused to award them costs, adding: "You were not guilty of a criminal offence but it was clear your behaviour was objectionable. There was clear evidence from five passengers, supported by four members of the cabin crew, that you were behaving in a loud and bawdy manner and that you spoilt the flight for a number of passengers."

He said Mr Beck, 56, should have known better because of his position as a licensee. Insp Perrett, 49, and his 26-year-old son, both with the West Yorkshire Police,were said to have insulted and mocked two elderly lady passengers for refusing to watch the film about male strippers.

Helen Bartlett, 78, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, said: "They called us `dykes' and that upset me greatly because my husband had not been dead very long ... When the film came on I was not interested in it, but they were laughing uproariously and they started to get personal."

Betty Bailey, 71, of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, said the defendants had started drinking before the aircraft took off.

"They were bragging and showing off ... I think they were all trying to intimidate us."

Insp Perrett, a policeman for 28 years, claimed the women had misheard a conversation about motorbikes. "The only thing I can assume is that we were talking about bikes," he said. "They must have misheard or misinterpreted it. I had not intentionally said anything to the ladies."

Ian Metcalfe, for the prosecution, said a passenger saw Richard Perrett handing out a litre bottle of gin among his group after their in-flight drinks had been served. The men refused to surrender their passports to a stewardess when she asked them, and quietened only after the pilot had spoken to them.

Later a senior West Yorkshire officer said internal disciplinary action against the two officers, which had been suspended during the trial, was being reopened.

n Lee Thresher, 29, an electrician, admitted endangering a BA flight by smashing a window after drinking three double whiskies and taking a Valium. Uxbridge magistrates were told Thresher, of Hullbridge, Essex, also attacked two passengers on the plane from Heathrow to Bangkok. He will be sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on 31 March.