Worker jailed for mid-air cellphone use

AN OIL worker was jailed for 12 months yesterday for using a mobile phone on an aeroplane in a manner likely to endanger its safety.

Judge Anthony Ensor told Neil Whitehouse, 28, that evidence during his trial last month had shown that the Boeing 737 flight from Madrid to Manchester could have been put at risk.

The jury at Manchester Crown Court had been told that Whitehouse, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, had repeatedly refused to switch off the phone when asked by the cabin crew and pilot on board the British Airways flight last September. When told by the crew that the phone could have interfered with navigational systems, he retorted: "Why? Are we going to get lost?"

Sentencing Whitehouse, the judge urged the Civil Aviation Authority to conclude investigations into legislation banning mobile phones on planes, in line with laws in the United States and Germany. "Proliferation of ownership of mobile phones and an increasing number of reports from pilots of electro-magnetic interference makes this a priority," he said.

The prosecution was the first of its kind under the Air Navigation Order 1995 which makes it an offence to use a mobile phone in a way likely to endanger an aircraft.

The crew had seen Whitehouse type the message "I love you" on the mobile's text screen. He had treated the aircraft's pilot, David Travis, with "arrogance and disdain" when he refused to hand over his phone, the judge said.

Whitehouse was sitting within six metres of 100 pieces of complex electronic equipment that could have been affected by signals from his phone. There were also 15 radio systems on the Boeing 737 and an emergency system. Mobile phone emissions, even when calls are not being made, can affect systems controlling the rate of climb, cabin pressures, altitude and landings, as well as the automatic pilot and other instrument flying systems.

The judge told Whitehouse: "The evidence was [that] over a period of 10 minutes during the early part of the flight to Manchester, you caused problems for the cabin staff by having your mobile phone switched on and ignoring their reasonable requests.

"Clearly you have no regard to the alarm and concern of passengers by your stubborn and arrogant behaviour. Any sentence must not only punish you but act as a warning to others who might be inclined to behave similarly."

The judge rejected a plea from Tom Fitzpatrick, for the defence, that Whitehouse be given only a heavy fine for what was "a fit of pique, unreasonableness and awkwardness".

Whitehouse has not worked in his pounds 35,000-a-year job as a driller in the oil industry since his arrest last September.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker