South London travellers jailed for transatlantic air rage

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The Independent Online

Two tourists whose violent behaviour led to a holiday flight to Jamaica being diverted were jailed yesterday.

Two tourists whose violent behaviour led to a holiday flight to Jamaica being diverted were jailed yesterday.

Patrick Connors 36, from Lewisham, south-east London, was sentenced to 12 months for endangering an Airtours flight to Montego Bay on 31 January last year. He was also sentenced to six months for affray, to run concurrently. Francis Coyle, 40, also from Lewisham, was sentenced to three months for affray.

Judge Austin Issard-Davies, at Hove Crown Court, told the men: "For those passengerswho are unused to public displays of violence it must have been a very terrifying incident."

The pair had been travelling with a group of friends and relatives on a flight from Gatwick when they caused the disturbance. During a three-week trial,Michael Warren, for the prosecution, said the group of six men and six women were boisterous upon boarding the plane and continued ordering drinks. They became noisier and the women started to sing Irish songs as well as Cliff Richard's "Summer Holiday".

The court was told Connors tried to fight a Jamaican passenger who told him to "shut those women up". The man, who was never questioned by police and played no part in the trial, threw two drinks over Connors. Coyle tried to join in the fight but was restrained by a flight attendant. One passenger said the scene was like a "bar-room brawl". Other passengers screamed and cried.

The flight was diverted to Virginia, in the United States.

The judge said: "There is a clear obligation on every person to behave in public places... The group of which you were a part clearly ignored this obligation from the moment you got on the aircraft. It is bad enough to have to contend with loud, boorish or drunken behaviour in streets, bars or trains. In the cramped confines of a crowded aircraft it is infinitely worse."

Three other members of the party - all women - were last month acquitted of being drunk on the flight.

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