A Ryanair flight passenger downed a bottle of vodka before launching into a drunken tirade at cabin crew.
Daniel Hendry, 24, abused staff and refused to wear a face mask on the flight to to Manchester Airport from Tenerife during England’s lockdown.
He had been moving back from Spain to live in Liverpool, reports the Manchester Evening News.
A court heard the air crew realised he had drunk three quarters of a bottle of vodka before boarding the January 29 flight.
After refusing to wear the face covering, Hendry told staff: “F*** off, I’m going to punch you, going to smash your head in.”
He then headbutted a member of staff before ‘stroking’ a female staff member’s arm and trying to hug her, Manchester Magistrates Court heard.
The captain resorted to calling air traffic controllers to try and divert the flight, but was unable to do so because airports had been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The court heard he made the decision to ‘accelerate’ the aircraft arriving 25 minutes ahead of schedule.
Upon landing, Hendry, of no fixed abode, was arrested – which was captured on camera by one of the passengers.
Hendry pleaded guilty to entering an aircraft when in drink, criminal damage and assault, and will next appear before Minshull Street Crown Court for sentencing next month.
Prosecutor Janice Vallancee told the court, Hendry began kicking off one hour into the RyanAir flight from Tenerife South.
“At first the defendant refused to wear a face mask despite being repeatedly requested to do so,” she said.
“Staff also became concerned as he was quite clearly intoxicated and on the seat next to him was an open bottle of Smirnoff Vodka that was three quarters consumed.
“He was moved to the back of the plane but he continued to be drunk and confirmed he had consumed three quarters of the bottle of vodka.
“He then became abusive with staff saying: ‘f*** off, I’m going to punch you, going to smash your head in’.
“He became aggressive with one of the cabin crew, Samuel Proietti, who was unable to hear some of the comments he was making due to his strong accent.
“He then headbutted Mr Proiretti, not making full contact though as he moved his head out of the way but Hendry connected with the right side of his face, but caused no visible injury.”
Prosecutors said Hendry continued to be abusive by ‘stroking a female member of the cabin crew on the arm’ before trying to hug her.
He then began pointing at a passenger who was filming him on his mobile phone.
“The captain was in discussions about diverting the aircraft and made requests to various air traffic controllers to divert the plane, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, no airports were available to take the diverted plane,” Ms Vallancee continued.
“The captain had to reluctantly continue with the flight but deliberately accelerated the plane to Manchester Airport, arriving 25 minutes ahead of schedule at the airport.
“On arrival he was arrested by police and caused damage to the police van by banging his head against the door and windows.”
The Crown said that not only did he ‘put himself at risk’, but he also ‘put the plane full of people at risk’.
Hendry’s defence solicitor Rebecca Wrack told the court he had been living in Tenerife and was returning to live with his girlfriend in Liverpool.
Her client fully accepted the prosecution’s case, she added.
“He falls on his sword and is remorseful. Unfortunately he has little memory of what took place on that plane.
“On hearing what has happened he is deeply remorseful.”
Because Hendry had travelled back into the UK from abroad he was taken back to the police station where he appeared in court via a video link, before quarantining.
Passenger Brian Yim told the Manchester Evening News he witnessed the tirade.
He said: “About two hours in a man seemed to be drinking alcohol on board and causing trouble.
“He was screaming and shouting at everybody. Most people on the flight were old people.
“I wasn’t sat next to him but the passengers next to him were quite troubled.
“I’m not sure what he was saying – it was gibberish, telling people to ‘f*** off’.
“Cabin crew came to calm him down. He tried to fight them.
“He was being verbally aggressive to passengers and physically aggressive to cabin crew.
“He was pushing (cabin crew) around and getting in their personal space.”
The case was adjourned to March 1 at Minshull Street Crown Court for sentence, and in the meantime Hendry was granted bail with a condition to attend Wavertree Police station twice a week.