Jail after ‘outrageous’ attack on flight home

Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk         5/11/2013'Mandatory Credit - Picture by Justin Kernoghan'Michael Paul McGrath from Lurgan leaving Antrim Courthouse at an earlier hearing - Michael Paul McGrath was sentenced to 5 months in custody today. He was sentenced on charges relating to an air rage incident  on a flight from Turkey to Belfast. Forty five minutes into a flight from Turkey other passengers had to restrain Michael and flight crew put him in handcuffs.'Story Paul Higgins 07973 157553

Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 5/11/2013'Mandatory Credit - Picture by Justin Kernoghan'Michael Paul McGrath from Lurgan leaving Antrim Courthouse at an earlier hearing - Michael Paul McGrath was sentenced to 5 months in custody today. He was sentenced on charges relating to an air rage incident on a flight from Turkey to Belfast. Forty five minutes into a flight from Turkey other passengers had to restrain Michael and flight crew put him in handcuffs.'Story Paul Higgins 07973 157553

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A drunken holidaymaker from Lurgan who behaved ‘outrageously’ on a flight home from Turkey has been jailed for five months.

After hearing how 20-year-old Michael Paul McGrath tried to ‘kick, punch, headbutt and bite’ cabin crew and passengers in an air rage incident, District Judge Alan White said his behaviour was ‘so outrageous’ he had to go into custody.

McGrath, from Rectory Park in Lurgan, had admitted 11 charges including endangering the safety of an aircraft, behaving in a disorderly manner on an aircraft, interfering with cabin crew, being drunk on a plane, failing to obey a lawful command and a further six counts of common assault on cabin crew and other passengers.

Prosecuting lawyer Dylan Cole told the court the charges, which all occurred on August 9, arose after McGrath had to be physically restrained on a flight from Turkey to Belfast International Airport.

The incident began when McGrath “pushed a member of staff in the back” and became “disruptive” and verbally abusive when told to sit down.

Instead, he refused and strutted “up and down the aisle of the aircraft, trying to take his clothes off,” said the lawyer adding that he told the crew to “f*** off” and struggled while crew and passengers tried to restrain him.

During the scuffle, the lawyer recounted how McGrath lashed out at the passengers and crew with his head, hands and feet.

Mr Cole described how “women and children clambered over the seats to the rear to get away from him,” but that using a restraint kit, McGrath was eventually restrained.

Despite that however, McGrath still “continued to kick, punch, head butt and shout” until he lapsed into unconsciousness. For the remainder of the flight, McGrath and his airway were monitored.

The flight’s captain requested to be met by police at Aldergrove and officers carried McGrath off the plane and arrested him.

After he said he had taken his father’s prescription painkillers, McGrath was taken to hospital to be examined but was discharged later that day.

During police interviews, he said he had drunk a large amount of alcohol, had taken his father’s tablets and could not remember what had happened.

Solicitor Connor Downey said both McGrath and his family were “wholly embarrassed” by the incident. He issued an apology to the cabin crew andholidaymakers.

He urged the judge to “leave something hanging over his head” but accepted that McGrath was “in a very precarious position”.

Ordering McGrath to be detained for five months, Judge White said he had behaved “in an absolutely outrageous manner”.