A FEMALE air passenger downed rum and wine before flooring three cabin crew with a series of judo sweeps, a court heard.
Hilary Mackay 54, repeatedly called an air stewardess a “bitch” on the night flight from Johannesburg to Heathrow.
It was said the economic consultant, who lives in Kensington, London, became “aggressive and agitated” after being asked to leave an extra leg room seat she hadn’t paid for.
It is said she started swearing at crew and fumed “do you expect me to look at these empty seats?”
The court heard that during the ten-hour flight she downed a quarter of a litre bottle of rum and two small bottles of wine and deliberately stuck her leg out when she saw workers coming down the aisle, leaving them “shocked and bruised”.
Prosecutor Jasbir Kaur told Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court: “The allegations relate to incidents on December 12 last year on an inbound flight travelling from Johannesburg in South Africa to Heathrow in London – during that flight Ms Mackay was drinking from her own alcohol she had in her hand luggage.
“She was originally seated in 49G but moved to 49H, an extra leg room seat which attracted an additional cost of £50.
“She was asked by a member of cabin crew if she wanted to continue accessing that seat she would have to pay or else she would have to return to her original seat.
“However it is alleged that throughout the flight Mackay was verbally abusive to staff, swearing at them several times – she was disruptive and on several occasions placed her foot out into the aisle as staff walked past, thus assaulting them.
‘AGGRESSIVE AND AGITATED’
“Ms Mackay was reported and she was met by police when the flight landed in Heathrow.”
At an earlier hearing in January Mackay described her actions, saying: “I was practising judo sweeps, so it wasn’t to target those three people.”
The prosecution at that hearing added: “She did a judo sweep on an aeroplane which constitutes an assault because people were tripped up.”
Lucey Downey, the cabin service supervisor and one of the alleged victims, described being sworn at after asking Mackay to move back to her seat.
She said: “I approached her in a calm manner – I came down to her eye level, spoke softly to her and explained the situation about the seating.
“I gave her the option of staying in the seat and paying the extra money or moving back to her seat – she was agitated and aggressive in her tone, she didn’t like the idea of moving because it was an empty row of three and more comfortable.
“She said she didn’t ‘f*****g see why’ she would have to move seats – I asked her not to swear at me.
“She said to me that if I was going to be ‘p*****g’ her around she was going to make the night very difficult for us.”
Ms Downey then told her manager about Mackay’s refusal to move, who told her she would speak to the defendant after take-off.
Ms Downey said it wasn’t until later in the flight as she was walking down the aisle that she was assaulted by Mackay.
She said: “I felt a sharp kick to my shin which made me trip and grabbed onto the seats either side of the aisle to stop myself from falling.
“I took a deep breath and put myself upright – I didn’t engage with Ms Mackay – I was very shocked, something like that had never happened to me before – I felt very shaken up actually.”
The crew should know better than to rile the passengers
Defendant Hilary Mackay
Manager Alex Scott, who went down to speak to the defendant after the flight took off, said Mackay called her a “bitch” three times.
Addressing the court, cabin crew member Leanne Palmer described being kicked in the ankle by Mackay and nearly hitting the ground.
She said: “As I was walking I felt a kick to my ankle and I tripped, a big trip, and just saved myself by grabbing onto the lower part of the chair – I was really shocked.”
Another crew member, Philip Sumner, told the court that Mackay tried to trip him up twice.
He said: “The lady put her right leg out as she saw me walking down – she held eye contact with me as she did it.
“I saw it and was able to climb over the leg and continued on to do the toilet checks.
“The passenger was looking at me as I was doing this – her eyes were on me all the time – and as I came back she puts her leg out when I was very close to her.
“I climbed over it again and said you’re going to seriously hurt someone – she just shrugged her shoulders at me.”
Police in Heathrow were called just after 6am after being alerted about a “disruptive passenger” – PC Carl Brackley arrived at the airport with two other officers and took Mackay off the plane.
In a statement read out in court he said: “I could smell intoxicating liquor on her breath and her eyes were glazed, she was slurring her words.
“I could see what appeared to be a tear in her eye, it appeared she had been crying.”
He explained to her there were reports of her being “antagonistic” to crew members on the flight about a seat.
Mackay said she wanted to lie down and sleep on the three empty seats in the row.
I could smell intoxicating liquor on her breath and her eyes were glazed, she was slurring her words
Police statement read in court
She said: “I’m short, extra leg room means nothing to me, I was interested in the two empty seats beside me – it was a 10 hour non smoking flight, I was interested in getting through the flight.”
PC Brackley asked her whether she had been drinking to which she said “yes”.
He said: “She pulled out a bottle from her bag, I asked her what it was and she said it was rum – a quarter of it was gone and she said at the start of the flight it was full.
“She said she had also had two bottles of wine, the single glass bottles given on flights.”
He added: “I believe she was drunk.”
Mackay was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and being drunk on an aircraft, both of which were later dropped – during her police interview that day she was further arrested for the assaults on cabin crew.
She gave a no comment interview and was later charged with three counts of assault by beating – one of which was reduced to common assault at today’s trial.
Giving evidence today Mackay said the crew should “know better” than to aggravate a smoker on a flight and accused the victims of “talking nonsense” and “not being honest” in their statements.
She said: “The crew should know better than to rile the passengers – they should be there to make the flight as smooth and quiet and beautiful as they can.
“There are people who do smoke and can’t smoke on an aircraft and they shouldn’t aggravate those passengers.”
Defending herself today, Mackay said after she sat in the extra leg room seat, a man had sat in hers and she was unable to go back.
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She said: “I explained that to them but they refused to listen – they didn’t want to listen – they just wanted money for the seat.”
But this was refuted by the witnesses, who said they told her they would move the man – which they did.
The verdict will be given later.
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