Passionate strangers pay £3,350 for antics on airliner

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The Independent Online

Two passengers caught canoodling on a transatlantic flight last October were fined a total of £2,250 yesterday for being drunk on board.

Amanda Holt, 37, and David Machin, 40, a greeting card executive, were strangers when they met in club class on the 10-hour American Airlines flight from Dallas to Manchester.

Conversation flowed as freely as the wine, port and cognac. Problems for other passengers started halfway through the in-flight movie, when the lights were dim, Manchester Crown Court was told.

The blonde and the businessman, married, but not to each other, were locked in an embrace. Passengers saw Holt slouched across the seat. Some said her eyes were rolling and that she smelt of drink. Philip Curran, for the prosecution, said the passenger in front thought a child was behind after she heard "noises like a naughty child and meowing noises". But when she turned to see who had thumped her with a foot she was surprised and offended to see Holt, in bra and knickers.

Another passenger said Machin's hand was in her knickers. Holt had her hand in his trousers, although he was not exposing himself, Mr Curran said. The couple ignored pleas from airline staff and their activities became so intense the pilot called police to meet the flight in Manchester.

They were still kissing and cuddling as the plane docked, Mr Curran said. Holt told officers nothing had happened but Machin said: "We became a little over-familiar, that's all."

Yesterday Machin, of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty and was fined £1,250 with £700 costs. Holt, of Bacup, Lancashire, who admitted the offence at an earlier hearing, was fined £1,000 with £400 costs.

Holt's counsel, Peter Birkett, said she had lost £15,000 in stock options when she was dismissed from her telecoms firm and had not worked since.

Machin's counsel, James Sturman, said he had lost his £15,000 bonus and taken another job with a £10,000 salary cut after resigning. Machin, his wife, Judith, and children aged 12, 11 and nine had been humiliated.

Holt was in court with her husband, Steve, a car salesman. Her solicitor said: "It's a matter of regret which Mrs Holt now wants to put behind her."

Machin said in a statement: "I am deeply ashamed. My arrest and prosecution has caused my wife and family considerable distress, which I bitterly regret."