Drunk passenger faces £40,000 bill after he forces plane to turn back

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A DRUNKEN passenger caused such a panic on board a holiday flight from Glasgow to Turkey that the pilot turned the aircraft around and returned to Scotland to have him dragged off the plane by police.

He is now facing a possible 40,000 bill to cover the charges the travel operator incurred.

A Sheriff at Paisley Sheriff Court heard that drunken James McLaughlan, 28, caused so much disruption through his reckless conduct that aircrew believed he endangered the aircraft and all onboard.

McLaughlan told a woman sitting next to him on the flight: "It's going to crash. We'll all be dead." After he threatened the woman's husband, cabin crew intervened but McLaughlan refused to behave himself.

Following repeated attempts to calm him down, the captain decided to turn the flight around for the safety of passengers and crew.

The 190 passengers on board missed the first day of their holidays and others waiting to return from Turkey had their departure delayed by a day.

McLaughlan was fined 3,150 yesterday.

And the liquidator put in place when the tour operator involved – the XL Leisure Group – went into administration, may chase him through the civil courts for recovery of the costs incurred. The episode landed the firm with a 40,000 bill for airport charges, refuelling and hotel rooms.

Depute fiscal Peter Galletly told the court that shortly after take-off on 28 June last year, a senior member of cabin crew became concerned when she saw McLaughlan drinking from a wine glass and having words with a female passenger seated in front of him. After all attempts to calm him down failed, the plane was turned around and police alerted.

By the time police boarded, McLaughlan, of Johnstone Street, Bannockburn, had fallen into such a deep state of drunken unconsciousness that he had to be physically dragged off the plane.

McLaughlan's defence agent, Mark Chambers, said his client had been set to enjoy a holiday with other members of his family but due to a fear of fly-ing consumed too much alcohol before getting on board the plane.

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