Passengers abused by plane drunk who is spared jail


An airplane drunk, who racially abused fellow-passengers on a long-haul flight from Kenya after a heavy-drinking session in the airport, has been spared jail.

Michael Harding, 53, of Moreteyne Road, Marston Moretaine, drank heavily at the bar before leaving Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, and consumed almost two one-litre bottles of vodka and whiskey he bought in duty free, a court heard.

He pleaded guilty on Friday to being drunk on board the Kenya Airways Boeing 777 as it travelled to Heathrow Airport on December 14 last year and was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to complete 200 hours’ community service work, fined £1,000, with £200 legal costs.

Isleworth Crown Court heard Harding spent two weeks in Africa, meeting a lady he befriended on the internet, but was obviously already drunk when he boarded the aircraft and was moved twice because of his disruptive behaviour before take-off.

Security staff had to speak to him and when escorted to a third seat he fell into a woman sitting next to the window and she asked to be moved.

Prosecutor, Orlando Gibbons, told the court Harding began abusing a black woman sitting in front of him when she reclined her seat.

He shoutedat her and said: “You’ve only come to get free money, you’ve ruined this country.”

Harding repeatedly pounded the seat, demanding the woman put it upright. A UK national, who was sitting across the aisle, urged the defendant to calm down, but Harding swore at him.

The defendant then turned his attention to the passenger sitting next to him, saying racially abusive words and adding: “Go back to your own country.

“Don’t touch me. You smell. You have illnesses and you are dirty.”

Another passenger of Asian appearance stood up and Harding shouted: “Go home Pakistanis. Muslims are bad and you only come to destroy my country.”

He was arrested after the plane landed and admitted having a drink problem, regularly consuming over 10 cans of lager a day.

Harding claimed he was a nervous flyer and had run out of all of his regular medication during the holiday and took sleeping pills before boarding the plane.

He did not recall the flight or abusing any passengers, insisting he was not a racist and had a black girlfriend and black work colleagues.

Harding apologised for his behaviour, agreeing alcohol was to blame.