British man whose ‘disgusting’ drunken behaviour caused plane to turn back forced to pay $21,000 fuel bill

Pilot forced to burn off and then dump 20,000lb of fuel in order to land safely after suffering an hour of abusive behaviour, court hears

British man whose ‘disgusting’ drunken behaviour caused plane to turn back forced to pay $21,000 fuel bill

A British passenger has been ordered to pay a Canadian airline C$21,260.68 (£12,274) restitution after his “absolutely disgusting” drunken behaviour caused a flight to turn around.

David Stephen Young, 44, was ordered to compensate the company for the cost of fuel after pleading guilty to failing to comply with safety instructions and resisting arrest.

His actions led to Westjet dumping fuel and compensating passengers.

The court heard that Young, an alcoholic, had been sober for 18 months until 4 January when he relapsed and consumed about six alcoholic drinks while waiting to board his WestJet flight from Calgary to London.

He is said to have been visiting his mother in British Columbia after becoming depressed over the collapse of his marriage and death of a family member.

Court documents state he repeatedly tried to get up during takeoff to use the toilet and became belligerent with flight crew and a fellow passenger.

Fearing for passenger safety, after an hour of Young’s abusive behaviour the pilot made the decision to return to Calgary.

According to prosecutor Lori Ibrus, the pilot had to burn off and then dump 20,000lb of fuel in order to land safely.

Young was later detained and spent one week at the Calgary Remand Centre before being released on bail.

Delivering the sentencing, provincial court judge Brian Stevenson said: “One has to feel some sympathy for the accused but as in all criminal legislation, it is trite to say that the voice of the victim must also be heard.”

He added that it was important to “send a message to the general public about what will happen if they break the law in a similar fashion”.

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Young apologised for his behaviour and for the “damage and inconvenience” he caused to his fellow travellers in a written statement.

Defence lawyer Michelle Parhar said once Young returns to the UK “he’s essentially barred from entering Canada, barred from seeing his mother in British Columbia”.

WestJet’s total losses are expected to exceed $200,000 in passenger compensation, which it can seek from Young in a civil lawsuit.

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