AN airline passenger who was so drunk he did not know what country he was in has been jailed after forcing a plane to be diverted following a mid-flight bust-up.
Andrew Tosh, 34, sexually assaulted a female cabin crew member, swore and acted aggressively to other passengers on the Glasgow to Turkey flight.
After the flight was diverted to Gatwick Airport in West Sussex, Tosh then had to be carried off the plane by officers in front of other passengers.
Police released footage of Tosh’s arrest including the moment officers had to put him in a hood to stop him spitting at them.
When one officer told him he was being arrested for being drunk on board an aircraft, Scotsman Tosh replied: “What are you going to do about it?”
Tosh, of Stirling Street, Dundee, pleaded guilty to sexual assault, threatening and abusive behaviour, assault and being drunk on an aircraft when he appeared at Lewes Crown Court on June 11, Sussex Police said. He was jailed for nine months and placed on the sex offender register.
We are not saying that people cannot have a drink before they fly, but if you have one too many don’t expect to get on a planeChief Insp Andy Kundert
A spokesman for Thomas Cook Airlines said: “For the benefit of our customers’ and employees’ comfort and safety, we have a zero tolerance approach to disruptive behaviour on our flights and fortunately incidents as serious as this are very rare.
“Currently our booking systems don’t give us the ability to ban disruptive passengers permanently but we fully assisted Sussex Police and the Crown Prosecution Service in bringing this case forward and hope the victims in the incident are satisfied with the outcome.”
Tosh’s arrest was captured on police bodyworn camera footage which has been released by Sussex Police with a warning that passengers face being barred from flying or even arrested if they get drunk and misbehave.
Chief Inspector Andy Kundert said: “Our aim is to prevent trouble happening by spotting the likely offenders early and dealing with them. We aim to make it very clear to people exactly what will happen to them if they get drunk.
“It has to be remembered that the number of passengers who cause a problem at Gatwick is a tiny proportion, particularly when you consider three million passengers per month fly from or to Gatwick, but there are few things worse when you are flying than having a drunken and abusive person nearby for hours.
“Drunken behaviour by obnoxious people on flights can include sexual assaults or assaults on cabin crews. Cabin staff can also have to deal with verbal abuse and threats.
“It is also upsetting and can be very frightening for other passengers, especially young children. This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable and neither us nor the airlines will tolerate it.
“We are not saying that people cannot have a drink before they fly, but if you have one too many don’t expect to get on a plane.”
Operation Disrupt is running throughout the summer and includes airline staff at check-in desks handing out leaflets warning passengers of the consequences if they get drunk and cause trouble.
Leaflets are also being handed out by airport staff and police in departure lounges, pubs and bars, and at duty free stores.