Airline passenger jailed for being drunk and abusive on plane


A female airline passenger, who had to be physically restrained by cabin crew on a flight from Crete to Birmingham, was yesterday sentenced to 10 months imprisonment after she had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing of being drunk on an aircraft as well as being racially abusive to her fellow passengers.

Birmingham Crown Court heard that 41-year-old Marsha Woodwart from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire boarded a  Thompson Airline flight (TOM7451) at Heraklion Airport, Crete on 19 July 2013 which was due to fly to Birmingham International  Airport.

The flight departed at 22.30GMT and approximately 30 minutes into the flight the cabin crew were made aware of a passenger who had been in the aeroplane's toilet for a long period of time.

Cabin crew, fearing for her health, attempted to assist her, but Woodwart became verbally abusive towards them. The crew then noticed smoke coming out of the toilet and after having received permission from the Captain, they removed the toilet door. They found the defendant in a state of intoxication, with a litre bottle of vodka in her possession and a cigarette butt on the toilet floor.

The crew tried to persuade Woodwart to come out of the toilet but she refused and due to her aggressive behaviour, the Captain authorised the use of restraints on her.

The defendant was eventually taken to the front of the plane where she was restrained by the crew, however, she continued to be verbally abusive to the crew and she began to spit at them. Fellow passengers, who were sitting near her, had to be moved to other seats as she began to become racially abusive towards them and spit at them too.

When the Boeing 757 arrived at Birmingham International Airport, Woodwart was arrested by police and she was charged with and pleaded guilty to being drunk on an aircraft, intentionally interfering with the performance of a member of crew, racially aggravated common assault and racially aggravated harassment.

Suzanne Llewellyn, Head of West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service's Crown Court Unit, said: "Marsha Woodwart's behaviour on a passenger flight was not only illegal and dangerous, but it must have been extremely distressing to her fellow passengers, which would have included young children.

"Before you board your flight and once you have entered the aircraft, all passengers are reminded that it is strictly prohibited to smoke on the airplane. Woodwart ignored these instructions, locked herself in the toilet, began to smoke a cigarette and consume alcohol from a bottle which she had purchased from duty free.

"In her inebriated state, she refused to exit the toilet which resulted in the cabin crew having to remove her and due to her aggressive behaviour, restrain her.

"Even when she was restrained, she continued to lash out at the crew and she became racially abusive towards some of her fellow passengers.

"We hope this prosecution sends out a clear message that this type of behaviour on passenger flight will not be tolerated. Those who commit such offences and put an aircraft and its passengers in danger will be robustly prosecuted."