'Passenger swore and then tried to kill me'

AN AIR STEWARDESS broke down yesterday as she described how she thought she was going to die at the hands of a drunken passenger who clubbed and then slashed her with a broken vodka bottle.

Fiona Weir, aged 31, who had just resumed work after her honeymoon, needed 18 stitches to her arms and body after being set upon by a drunken man.

The attack, on Friday at the end of an Airtours flight from Gatwick to Malaga, highlighted the growing problem of airline staff being assaulted and abused by passengers.

Ms Weir had repeatedly warned unemployed Steven Handy, 37, of Dover, about his behaviour after she had caught him smoking in the aircraft's toilet.

Ms Weir, of Wimbledon, south-west London, said she was telling Mr Handy to behave himself when pandemonium broke out.

"I thought he was going to kill me," she said. "As we approached our stand, and the engines were switched off, the captain made an announcement to the passengers to remain seated with their seatbelts fastened and they were informed that an incident had occurred on the flight and the police were coming on the aircraft.

"When we arrived at the stand the passengers were told to remain seated but unfortunately a female passenger a few rows away from Steve started using abusive language at him and this got him very agitated.

"They started to argue. I then said to this lady to please remain seated but she refused.

"Steve was now out of his seat and I very calmly turned round and said: 'Steve, please get back in your seat'."

Ms Weir said the female passenger then turned around and Mr Handy asked her: "Are you laughing at me you ... bitch?"

She said: "He just turned and raised the bottle and hit it across my head.

"Obviously I was stunned and I fell to the floor. I remember I put my hand up, my right arm which is where I have got the stitches, above my head. I knew the bottle had smashed and he smashed the broken bottle across my arm.

"I screamed for someone to help me. My female colleague could do nothing because it was obviously happening within seconds.

"If she had tried to help me I am sure he would have just put the bottle in her face.

"I knew he was not going to stop so I turned my back to try and protect my head and he continued to bash the bottle on my head."

Ms Weir eventually managed to crawl to safety through a half-open cabin door before passengers and police overpowered Mr Handy.

But Mr Handy, who managed to get on the flight by buying a cut-price pounds 35 ticket after cashing a dole cheque, appeared unrepentant and blamed the assault on Ms Weir's behaviour.

Mr Handy, who spent the flight topping up orange from a concealed bottle of duty-free vodka, is sleeping on Spanish beaches until his next appearance at the court in Malaga where he is charged with endangering an aircraft and assault. Emerging from the court on Saturday, missing a shoe and dressed in a dirty tracksuit, he said: "She asked me to sit down but I didn't like the way she said it. She was aggressive so I did her. If someone starts on me I'll go for them, even if it's a woman."

Shaun Robinson, a spokesman for Airtours, said the company was "outraged" that Mr Handy did not have his passport removed by the court. "This man is clearly dangerous. He admits he attacked her but the court has allowed him to roam the streets giving him the chance to attack other women."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links