Edinburgh man handed suspended jail term after drunk antics force landing

Police vehicles surround a Thomson aircraft at Bristol airport as officers arrest Derek Root and Alexander Gray. Picture: SWNS
Police vehicles surround a Thomson aircraft at Bristol airport as officers arrest Derek Root and Alexander Gray. Picture: SWNS
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An Edinburgh man was handed a suspended jail term after his drunken antics with another passenger forced a holiday jet to make an emergency landing before it had even left UK airspace.

Derek Root, from Glasgow, downed 10 shots of Jack Daniel’s whiskey in the departure lounge after his flight from Glasgow to Alicante was delayed by three hours.

Police vehicles surround a Thomson aircraft at Bristol airport as officers arrest Derek Root and Alexander Gray. Picture: SWNS

Police vehicles surround a Thomson aircraft at Bristol airport as officers arrest Derek Root and Alexander Gray. Picture: SWNS

When he finally boarded a passenger sitting nearby, Alexander Gray, from the Capital handed him a bottle of Jagermeister which he also started drinking.

The pair soon became abusive to passengers and crew, with Root, 30, asking stewards if they ‘wanted his c***’ before Gray, 38, was sick on the floor.

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Police vehicles surround a Thomson aircraft at Bristol airport as officers arrest Derek Root and Alexander Gray. Picture: SWNS

Police vehicles surround a Thomson aircraft at Bristol airport as officers arrest Derek Root and Alexander Gray. Picture: SWNS

They were subdued by staff and returned to their seats - where they promptly fell fast asleep as the plane diverted to Bristol Airport.

Police swarmed onto the plane, where it proved “very difficult to rouse” the pair and arrest them, Bristol Crown Court heard yesterday.

Root was jailed for eight months and Gray was given a six-month suspended prison sentence after both admitted being drunk on an aircraft and being abusive to staff.

Judge Michael Cullum told the pair: “You were both completely drunk and must have known you were getting drunk, drinking whiskey after whiskey, pint after pint.

“What you did was absolutely abhorrent.”

The court heard how Root, a refuse collector and Gray, a hospital porter, had never met before the Thomson flight on July 8 this year.

Root was going on holiday for a week with his girlfriend and had only been on a plane once before.

Chloe Griggs, prosecuting, said: “As soon as the flight boarded, the crew were in difficulties.

“Mr Root and Mr Gray were both complaining about the delay and after about 20 minutes a passenger approached the crew and said they were shouting and swearing and disturbing passengers.

“Mr Gray was in possession of an open bottled of Jägermeister and the crew removed it from him.

“Mr Root pressed all the call buttons and a cabin crew member came over.

“He told her to ‘go and f*** herself’ and she asked for his passport.

“Mr Root’s partner handed over his passport and he got up out of his seat and went towards the cabin crew member to grab his passport.

“Mr Gray was repeatedly banging the seat in front of him and was sick on the floor and seat beside him.

“He then began spitting at the seat in front of him and was shouting and swearing.”

At this point the pilot made the decision to divert and make an emergency landing at Bristol Airport, some 400 miles after taking off.

Root, of Nisket Court, Glasgow, sobbed as he was jailed for eight months and told he would remain on licence for 12 months after his release.

He has previous convictions including assault, possession of an offensive weapon and resisting and obstructing the police, the court heard.

He was also given a community order in 2015 for breaching the peace.

Gray, of Moss Vale Road, Edinburgh, who has no previous convictions, was given a six-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

Sentencing, Judge Cullum told Root: “Your actions were far more serious - you were sexually vulgar to the air crew that were trying to control the situation.

“At the age of 30 you should of course known a little better.”

He added: “Then you Mr Gray, at the age of 38, should have known ever better than to get drunk boarding a plane.

“So drunk that when you woke up in Bristol you thought you were in Spain.”