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Glasgow man who shouted 'Fenian b***ards' at Irish couple on plane jailed for 20 months

One of the crew members described his behaviours as the worst she had ever had to deal with
David Lauriston, from Lesmahagow, was jailed for 20 months at Manchester Crown Court

David Lauriston, from Lesmahagow, was jailed for 20 months at Manchester Crown Court

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

A Glasgow man “caused real terror and trauma” to passengers and aircrew when he launched into a drunken tirade on board an airplane that included shouting 'Fenian b***ards' at an Irish couple, a court heard.

David Lauriston, from Lesmahagow, was jailed for 20 months at Manchester Crown Court for his actions that forced the captain of the Jet2 flight to Bodrum from Glasgow Airport to divert to Manchester Airport shortly after take-off.

Lauriston shouted religious, misogynistic and homophobic slurs at other passengers during the incident on September 21 last year, and punched, kick and spat at three female members of cabin crew as they attempted to restrain him.

One of the crew members described his behaviours as the worst she had ever had to deal with.

The incident occurred just 30 minutes into the 3.40pm flight.

Prosecutor Ms Megan Tollit said: “There were 165 passengers on the flight including young children. The cabin crew started the inflight meal service but a number of passengers described seeing the defendant sitting at the back towards the rear of the plane and raising his voice towards other passengers.

“He was verbally abusive towards an Irish couple. Passengers described him shouting that the people were 'Fenians' and 'Fenian b***ards.' "

Lauriston (39) then made punching motions before violently turning on three air hostesses who intervened.

Flight attendant Nicola McDonagh was poked in the face and shoulder as she tried to calm Lauriston, who had been drinking heavily ahead of the flight.

Lauriston threatened to bite her colleague Debra Watson, poking her ten times in the face and making a growling motion towards her.

He then needed to go to the toilet with staff locking him inside. The passenger was later released and placed in restraints when he began kicking at the door and trying to smash the window.

As he struggled violently to free himself from the restraints, the pilot diverted to Manchester Airport where police were waiting to arrest Lauriston.

The court heard that the decision to divert was a complicated one due to the fact that the plane was still fully-laden with fuel, with the pilot saying that "there was a real risk to the safety of the aircraft".

In court, Martin Callery defending, said his client recognised that his behaviour was "abominable".

Mr Callery said that Lauriston had been offered alcohol, namely spirits from a duty free bottle from a person sitting next to him on the flight which he had drank while on medication for depression and anxiety.

In a police interview following his arrest at Manchester Airport, Lauriston claimed that the passenger had told him he was gay and had made suggestive comments towards him.

"After that he said he blacked out" the prosecutor added.

A letter written by Lauriston in court said: "Dear Jet2 staff. I am writing this letter to say how sorry I am to all crew members, staff and passengers that I caused stress and alarm to.

"I cannot say in words how sorry I am."

However, in a statement, Ms Watson, who suffered bruising to her leg and arm during the ordeal, said: “I've been in the industry 15 years and I have considerable experience dealing with difficult passengers, but this incident was by far the worst.

“I've never experienced this level of violence towards me and others. I've never had to use restraining tactics before. I hope this male understands the level of fear that he caused to me, the crew and passengers.

“As the crew manager, I feel compelled to keep the crew safe at all times. It left me questioning my future. I returned home last night with my family very distressed, specifically because of the flight.

“All member of staff were put on leave by Jet2.com. I'm unsure whether I will return to flying. It's been really hanging over my head. I will never forget the crying children and the frightened look on passengers' faces.”

Ms McDonagh added: “This is the worst experience I have ever had. I feel that the behaviour of the accused was inexcusable. I have never had to physically restrain a passenger.”

Sentencing Lauriston, Judge Hilary Manley told him: “Passengers were terrified, in particular children and ultimately, you had to be restrained. You kicked and spat at staff causing bruising. You assaulted a third crew member, kicked a window and smashed a tray table.

“Because of your behaviour, the captain had no choice but to divert the aircraft to Manchester Airport. Your behaviour caused those on the aircraft to be endangered, the aircraft having to land when there was far more fuel on board than was intended for landing. This was made worse because of the pandemic.

“You say that you need help with your mental health difficulties, and say that you are sorry. But what you did caused much more than distress and alarm. You caused real terror.

“People need to understand that if they behave like this on an aircraft, they will go to prison.”

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