Drunk Scottish engineer who touched teenagers on British Airways flight avoids jail

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A drunk engineer who touched two teenage girls on a British Airways flight - grabbing one's thighs and stroking the other's hair, has narrowly avoided going to jail.

Craig Wylie, 28, necked five pints before getting on board the aircraft from Accra, Ghana where he had been working, to London Heathrow and claimed to have no memory of the assaults.

Craig Wylie outside court. Picture: SWNS

Craig Wylie outside court. Picture: SWNS

Once on board he started drinking whisky.

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The engineer, from Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire, was arrested after landing back in the UK after one of his victims reported him to cabin crew.

The Scot pleaded guilty to two charges of assault by beating and was handed an 18 week suspended sentence and ordered to pay £750 compensation to each of his victims.

The dad-of-one initially chatted to his first victim while after she sat down next to him on the plane.

The girl, 17, put her headphones in and fell asleep after take-off but woke suddenly to find Wylie's hand on her thigh.

She grabbed his wrist and threw the hand off, thinking it could have been an accident.

But she woke again minutes later as Wylie gripping her thigh for a second time.

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He then pulled out her earphones and tried to put his own in before raising a glass of whisky to her mouth. But this time she got up and moved.

Later during the flight another girl, 16, was shocked as Wylie reached out from behind her and touched her hair.

At Uxbridge Magistrates Court, prosecutor Zara Khan said: "He said he had drunk five pints of alcohol before the flight. He likes to drink before getting on a flight as it helps him sleep."

Reading a statement from the first victim, she continued: "This man told me he was an engineer and had been out in Ghana for two weeks working.

"He commented on how young I looked and I told him I was 17. He seemed chatty and friendly but was swearing a lot.

"After about ten minutes, while we were up in the air, I stopped talking to him and put my headphones on. I was trying to sleep and had my blanket over me.

"At approximately 11:15pm I woke up and opened my eyes and saw that this man had his hand on my right thigh.

"I immediately grabbed his hand by the wrist and put it towards him and off me. The male did not say anything when I did this.

"On this occasion, I accepted it may have been accidental. I did feel uncomfortable and sat in such a way that my left leg was over my right thigh.

"The male then grabbed my left thigh. I immediately put it off me. The man grabbed my left earphone out of my ear. When the male took out my left headphone he then tried to put his own headphones in my ear.

"The male then moved his earphone towards my ear. I moved my hand to block him and told him to stop.

"I remember he was drinking whisky and put his cup towards my mouth but I said no.

"The male smelled of alcohol and I believed he was drunk because he was swearing and chatting a lot."

The court was told how she was so traumatised she now wakes up in a panic thinking his hand is on her leg.

Ms Khan, reading the 16 year old second victim's statement, said: "I was slightly leaning forward and this male suddenly stretched his arm out.

"He lifted his hand and stroked my hair. It felt like he was rubbing my head. I told him to stop and then pushed his arm off me.

"I did not say anything on this occasion but went straight and spoke to a cabin crew. I cannot say if the touching was sexual but I did make me feel very uncomfortable."

Mitigating, Ranveer Authwall saId: "He had consumed alcohol before boarding the flight and consumed further alcohol onboard.

"Although he has no recollection he has not sought to deny or minimise his behaviour in any way.

"He is deeply remorseful and very ashamed that he is before the court for these offences."

Concluding the hearing, Chairman of the Bench Martin Ricketts said: "We have given this matter a lot of consideration because it is a serious offence. The custody threshold has been crossed.

"The sentence for both offences will be 26 weeks custody to run concurrently however we are reducing this to 18 weeks custody because of your early guilty pleas.

"Also we are suspending the sentence for two years because immediate custody would result in significant impact on your young family and there is a realistic possibility of your rehabilitation."