A lawyer from the United Kingdom who spat at and made racist comments at Air India cabin crew members after she was denied alcohol on a Mumbai-London flight was sentenced to six months in prison, according to reports.
The incident took place in a Heathrow-bound flight on November 11, 2018, when Northern Irish lawyer Simone Burns was denied a fourth bottle of wine on the flight. She then reportedly spat at a flight attendant. She also hurled abuses at the crew member and smoked a cigarette in the toilet. A video of the incident surfaced online.
Burns was arrested upon landing in London and convicted in March. She has pleaded guilty to the charges.
Burns was given six months in jail for being drunk on an aircraft and two months for assault, to be served concurrently. While pronouncing the sentence in the Isleworth Crown Court, Judge Nicholas Wood reportedly observed, “The experience of a drunk and irrational person in the confines of an aircraft is frightening, not least on a long-haul flight, and poses a potential risk to safety.”
She was also ordered to pay a compensation of £300 to the person she assaulted. “Spitting straight into a crew member’s face at close range is a particularly insulting and upsetting act,” the judge said. He concurred that the abuse was racially motivated. “You were drunk and obnoxious almost from the beginning to the end,” he said. “You were abusive, contemptuous and confrontational and used appalling language.”
An Air India cabin crew member said that her behaviour was unlike anything he had seen in his 30-year career, said Press Association.
An earlier PTI report had quoted an airline official as saying that as a thumb rule, passengers can be served two-three pegs of hard liquor and another three or four glasses of wine. “Passengers in business class can get a little more. But this passenger already had four quarter bottles of wine and was insisting for more,” the official said.
The lawyer who represented Burns told the court that she is “deeply ashamed of her behaviour, extremely apologetic and does not give any excuses for her behaviour”, reported Hindustan Times.
He said since the video of her behaviour went viral across the social media, her reputation has been destroyed and faced a torrent of threats and abuse, confining her to her home and refraining from practising in courts.