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Man jailed for getting drunk on plane

James Woodward,Press Association
Friday 13 February 2009 10:22 GMT

A man who terrified passengers on a plane after drinking a bottle of vodka in the toilet cubicle has been jailed for 12 weeks, police said today.

Frank Tobin, 47, was flying from Sharm El Sheikh, in Egypt, to Bristol airport in December when he became drunk and began abusing staff.

Tobin, from Cardiff, was arrested on landing and told he had shown a "reckless disgregard" for safety on the busy flight.

Sergeant Barry Attwater, based at Bristol International Airport, said today: "There is no justification for getting drunk on an aircraft and anyone who does shows a reckless disregard for the other people on the plane.

"As well as 200 other passengers having to put up with the drunken behaviour, passengers who are drunk are a serious risk to the safety of the aircraft and may even cause the flight to be diverted to a nearby airport so that they can be removed from the aircraft.

"Police have an excellent working relationship with Bristol Airport and the airlines that fly from there.

"There is a commitment to tackle people thinking of getting drunk in aircraft and this includes reminding passengers to know their limits, as well as robustly enforcing the existing legislation.

"Passengers will often have a drink in the airport lounge or on the aircraft and we do not want to stop people enjoying themselves. However, passengers need to know their limits and stop before they become too intoxicated.

"I would urge passengers to stop and consider how they would feel if a drink resulted in them gaining a criminal record."

Getting drunk on an aircraft is an offence punishable by a jail sentence under Air Navigation Orders 2005.

Alison Roberts, general manager (terminal) at Bristol International, said: "We want all passengers using the airport to have an enjoyable start to their journey, but inappropriate behaviour by a minority can spoil the experience for everyone.

"Enjoying a drink before departure can be an enjoyable part of the holiday experience, but not if it spoils the journey for other passengers."

North Somerset Magistrates' Court heard that the flight was returning from Sharm El Sheikh when police were alerted to a man who was reported to be drunk on the aircraft.

The man had consumed a bottle of vodka in a toilet cubicle and was being abusive towards the airline staff and swearing, magistrates were told.

Officers were waiting for the plane when it arrived and arrested the man. He was taken into custody and charged the following day with drunkenness on an aircraft.

Tobin was sentenced to a 12-week jail term when he appeared in court a fortnight ago.

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