A "drunk and obnoxious" woman who drank three bottles of wine on a long-haul flight before calling the cabin crew ”Indian money-grabbing c***s”, has been jailed.
Told she could not have anything more to drink, she spat in the face of one flight attendant and yelled: “I’m a f*****g international lawyer”.
Then she retreated to the toilets to smoke.
A member of the cabin staff described her conduct as unlike anything he had seen during his 34-year aviation career.
Sentencing her to six months in prison for being drunk on an aircraft and two months for assault, judge Nicholas Wood, told her: “The experience of a drunk and irrational person in the confines of an aircraft is frightening, not least on a long-haul flight and poses a potential risk to safety. You were drunk and obnoxious almost from the beginning to the end. You were abusive, contemptuous and confrontational and used appalling language.”
Although the aircraft was not endangered Burns’ behaviour, the judge added that ”for the luckless and unfortunate passengers and crew there is no escape at 30,000ft”.
He said that “spitting straight into a crew member’s face at close range is a particularly insulting and upsetting act”.
Burns, from Hove, sat quietly in the dock as she was sentenced. She had pleaded guilty and her sentences will be served concurrently. She was also ordered to pay £300 compensation to the person she assaulted.
The 50-year-old is also known as Simone O’Broin.
Mark Kimsey, defending, suggested that her actions were due to a “mixture of altitude, the consumption of drink and anxiety” at the fact that she was likely to miss the funeral of an uncle.
He said she was “totally ashamed of her behaviour”, adding: “This is not a lady who has a drink problem. This is not a woman who has a drug problem. This is totally out of character.”
Burns was diagnosed with facial skin cancer in 2000 and has had multiple biopsies and surgeries to what is “an active problem”, Mr Kimsey told the court. He added she was waiting to receive a prosthetic nose.
The lawyer, who has worked with refugees around the world, received death threats after details of her conduct emerged, he said.
After breakfast was served she was asking for alcohol and being “very obnoxious”, the court heard. She was given three 250ml bottles of red wine an hour into the flight and had also complained that her TV was not positioned correctly.
Later, Burns had gone to the galley to demand more alcohol when she stood back and spat into the crew member’s face, before grabbing the report the attendant was writing and continuing with her abusive behaviour, the court heard.
The hearing was told that the flight attendant involved later said: “In the 34 years I have worked for Air India this is the first time I have been treated like this by a woman. I felt abused.”
Burns was given multiple warnings during the flight, and then arrested when it landed.
Additional reporting by PA