A plane passenger left fellow holidaymakers ‘in tears’ after he tried to start a water fight on board a TUI flight at 40,000 feet.
Scotsman John Maxwell was arrested after he was seen throwing the water at other passengers sat near him, including children.
He then threatened cabin crew who intervened.
The 35-year-old appeared in court today where he was handed a £1,200 fine.
During the mid air confrontation on board the nine hour TUI flight from the Dominican Republic to Manchester, Maxwell squared up to two airline stewards and said: ‘Do you want trouble? what’s your problem? Who the f**k are you to tell me what to do?’”
His boorish behaviour left youngsters in tears with staff suggesting the pilot of the aircraft consider diverting the 4,200 mile fight from Punta Canta to the nearest airport.
But cabin crew – helped by an off duty police – eventually restrained Maxwell using a restraint kit kept on board the aircraft to deal with troublemakers.
Maxwell was arrested when the plane carrying 343 passengers, including 25 children under the age of 12 plus five infants, touched down at Manchester Airport.
He denied being drunk and claimed eye witnesses had “conspired against him.”
But in a statement airline steward Richie Warren said: “Mr Maxwell’s menacing and aggressive behaviour left me feeling uncomfortable and anxious throughout the flight. He was clearly under the influence of something.
“Some children were crying and this is the first time that I have had to use the restraints in 21 years.
“It caused a lot of distress on board the aircraft and I am just grateful that other passengers have helped out. He should not be able to get away with this sort of behaviour.”
At Manchester magistrates court, Maxwell, of Markinch, Glenrothes, Fife, had faced up to two years jail after being charged with being drunk on aircraft.
However prosecutors accepted his guilty plea to the lesser offence of threatening behaviour under the Air Navigation Order 2016.
He was also ordered to pay £400 compensation to Mr Warren plus £205 in costs and surcharges. The maximum sentence he could have faced was a £2,500 fine.
The incident occurred on January 24 this year whilst Maxwell was returning home following a holiday on the resort town near the Caribbean.
Prosecutor Jane Deakin said: “At around quarter to midnight a passenger came to the rear galley to speak to crew about a passenger acting erratically and swearing and arguing with his friend, he appeared to be agitated and twitching and clapping his hands.
“At 12.50am the passenger returned and said the male was throwing water at surrounding passengers including children. He was spoken to as his language was unacceptable but he then turned his attention to two of the cabin crew.
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“As if he was going to square up to them he said: ‘Do you want trouble? what’s your problem? Who the f**k are you to tell me what to do?’ Surrounding passengers then had to be moved and into crew seats or wherever they could find seats.
“The pilot was contacted to divert the aircraft but it was not possible and the authority was given to use the restraining kit.
“The crew and passengers applied the restraint kit. He was compliant to start with but then began to swear and continued to make threats to the cabin staff and due to him being on a quiet aircraft could easily be hard by the victim.
“The defendant was sat by an off duty officer until the end of the flight and continued to try intimidate the victim by shouting out his name. When they landed the police boarded and arrested the defendant.”
The court heard Maxwell had a previous conviction of assault on a police officer plus other public order offences. His lawyer Ian Cochrane said: “He was originally charged with drunk on an aircraft but he never accepted that.
“He was not under the influence of alcohol – and that was clear from the what he said in his police interview.
“I can see the court takes a dim view to the offence but his version was that he got into an argument with a friend on the aircraft. It should not have happened but it did.
“He accepts there after his behaviour was below what it should have been.”
Sentencing Deputy District Judge David Scanlon told Maxwell: “Your behaviour was atrocious and potentially dangerous but it’s your lucky day Mr Maxwell.
“The charge you face has been reduced to one that carries a fine. The people on the aircraft had no doubt saved their hard earned money to have a holiday break and what do they get? – you John Maxwell.”
He added: “This was a complete disregard for the welfare of other people – in particular those who where doing their jobs and who have 300 plus people to look after.
“It was a disregard about how that behaviour impacts – in particular on the crew member. It just doesn’t go away when he’s on that flight.
“He says ‘everyone seems to have conspired against him’ but I find that ludicrous.
“This incident took place in an enclosed area and unlike most public transport there is no where else for people to go when they are many thousands of feet in the sky.
“You brought this entirely on yourself.”