Plumber who went berserk on jet jailed for three years

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The Independent Online
A DRUNKEN passenger who went berserk on a jumbo jet after being ticked off for watching porn on a laptop computer was jailed for three years for what was described as the "worst-ever case of air rage".

Ian Bottomley, 36, a plumber, injured three stewards, caused pounds 30,000 of damage, and invited a former soldier trying to restrain him to "step outside" seven miles above the African jungle. Finally, after a "violent struggle", he was overpowered, handcuffed, gagged, strapped down and repeatedly sedated in an attempt to restore order. But minutes later it became necessary to crowbar the seats in front of him from their fittings to stop him trying to head-butt them, the jury at Isleworth Crown Court, west London, was told.

A fellow passenger, horrified at his almost unbelievable power during what seemed like endless hours of "animal" aggression, told the captain: "Get this bloody plane on the ground and get this bloody lunatic out before he kills us."

The jury rejected his claim that he was more victim than villain and convicted him of a string of charges. They first found him guilty of affray on British Airways flight BA056 from Johannesburg to Heathrow in January. This was followed by further unanimous verdicts for causing actual bodily harm to the cabin- crew chief, Michael Stevenson, one count of being drunk aboard the aircraft, and one of endangering the plane and its passengers.

Bottomley, from Witham, Essex, showed little emotion either then or when sentence was passed.

Judge Andrew McDowall told the South African-born plumber his behaviour had been "appalling and terrifying". The judge, while accepting he had been under stress from personal problems, said it remained that Bottomley not only got on the aircraft drunk, but proceeded to "top up" with more alcohol once on board, despite warnings not to do so.

"Your violence was not merely directed towards those trying to restrain you, but also to people trying to give you help and attention and ease the pain you were suffering," said the judge.

He added: "It is always sad to find someone of good character appearing in a criminal court, but you must realise the kind of offences you committed cannot be accepted by the courts of this country and will not be."

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