A veterinary nurse is facing up to two years in jail after getting ‘eight out of ten’ drunk on board on a flight to Turkey and assaulting another passenger.
Katherine Heyes, 29, from Tyldesley, Wigan, helped consume an entire bottle of duty-free vodka with two friends and was so intoxicated she could barely speak.
During the trip from Manchester to the Turkish resort city of Antalya Escort, Heyes became abusive towards crew and passengers and got involved in an altercation in which a fellow traveller suffered a scratch to her face.
The incident occurred on May 18 last year after Heyes boarded Thomas Cook flight MT354 with a female friend and the friend’s mother.
The pilot considered diverting the plane but it landed at its destination and police were waiting to escort Heyes and her friends away.
Katherine Heyes leaving Manchester Magistrates court after her behaviour on a flight
She later claimed she got drunk as she was nervous about flying.
At Manchester magistrates court, Heyes, admitted being drunk on an aircraft but she was sent to crown court for sentence after a district judge said his sentencing powers were insufficient.
Prosecutor Miss Eileen Rogers said: ‘There were problems with their boarding passes as regards the names on the cards and they were the last to board the flight and take their seats in row 15.
‘Following take-off a member of cabin crew noticed the friends going to the toilet both together and going in there with a large bag with them and it appeared they were drinking their own alcohol aboard the plane.
‘They had a large bag with them in such a small space and one of the cabin crew had seen some alcohol.
Later the meals were served and the cabin crew found an empty bottle of blue vodka where the group were sitting.
‘Details were taken from all the ladies and the alcohol bottle was removed and advice was given not to consume alcohol on board the aircraft.
Cabin crew said they could barely understand Heyes’s speech as she was so intoxicated
‘But cabin crew noticed the ladies appeared to be under the influence of alcohol – in particular Heyes.
‘She was slurring her words so much it was difficult to understand what she was saying when she was responding to the cabin crew member.
‘Passengers within the area began using their call buttons to get the crews attention at the response to the lady causing a disturbance in the row.
‘They all noticed she was intoxicated and all were concerned about her welfare.She seemed to be swearing and pointing her finger in an aggressive way.
‘Many passengers were prompted to use the buttons to voice their concerns about the behaviour.
‘A cabin crew member went to approach in relation to that but it caused another altercation with the others with her trying to calm her down and one was left with a scratch to her face.
The incident occurred on May 18 last year after Heyes boarded Thomas Cook flight MT354 (stock image)
‘She then started again swearing and shouting again whilst being restrained by her friends and they told her to calm down.
‘A senior cabin crew member spoke to her again and were keeping a close eye on her but many passengers wanted the flight to be diverted.
‘But after speaking to the captain and learning they were 40 minutes away from landing, a decision was taken for the aircraft to proceed to the destination.
‘Police met the aircraft and all parties were escorted off.’
Miss Rogers added: ‘It was a worrying time for people on the aircraft travelling all looking to see what’s going on and there was a considerable amount of disturbance and noise coming from Heyes.
The judge referred the case to a higher court as he believed a financial penalty was insufficent punishment for Heyes behaviour
‘They wanted the aircraft to be diverted and Heyes to be removed from the aircraft.The bad behaviour lasted for most of the flight.’
Crew member Donna Smith said in a statement: ‘I noticed a lady being very drunk on the aircraft and causing a disturbance and swearing.
‘She was obviously drunk and eight of 10 on the intoxication level.I had never had to contemplate diverting an aircraft and restraining somebody this was extreme when all control had been lost.
‘It did become chaotic on this flight due to the acts of Katherine and all of her group. There were no thoughts and consideration of the effects they were having to all other passengers on board.
‘I am trained to deal with confrontation and difficult passengers but nothing prepares you or is as upsetting to see this.All the cabin members were very disturbed on the flight.
Heyes’s destination, Antalya, Turkey, where she was escorted off the flight by police
‘They were upset and concerned for the safety of themselves and clearly effected everybody on board.’
In mitigation defence lawyer Nichola Johnson said: ‘Heyes is truly remorseful and sorry about her behaviour on the day in question.
She accepts the offence entirely out of character and she accepts and fully understands the serious nature of the incident and the upset and distress to other passengers.
‘She makes clear she didn’t set out to consume alcohol on this flight or get herself in this state.
‘One of the other female adults brought alcohol in question and it hadn’t been Heyes intention to purchase any alcohol.
‘She does accept that one bottle was opened on the flight and she accepts an amount of alcohol was poured into a glass.
‘She’s a nervous flyer and not a regular flyer she was stressed and worried about this flight at the outset.
‘She doesn’t usually drink spirits and the amount of alcohol may have exasperated her emotional state and she was beginning to lose her temper and matters escalated from there.
‘She’s not seeking to excuse her behaviour or minimise it in any way but she does apologise most profusely for this incident.
‘She accepts it would have caused distress to the crew and surrounding passengers.Being escorted from the plane had a significant impact on her.
‘She was told police would visit her at her destination where she was residing during the course of her holiday and she had the threat of that hanging over her.
‘They did not attend but when she returned to the UK, she was met by an officer at Manchester airport and was fully cooperative.
‘She’s the author of her own misfortune but this matter has gone on for some time to come to court and has caused an immense amount of stress and worry for her.
‘She’s of impeccable character.She works full time as a veterinary nurse and has worked very hard to qualify and achieve the qualifications.
‘It’s been a long time since I have seen references of such a glowing and very caring nature towards her colleagues and also to people she comes across during the course of her work.
‘I hope the court would be able to accept this office is while of a serious nature is entirely out of character and one unlikely to be repeated ever again.’
But District Judge Judge John Temperley told Heyes: ‘My sentencing powers are limited and all this particular court can do is impose a financial penalty.
‘In this particular case, I am not satisfied a financial penalty is adequate nature for the seriousness of the offence.
‘There was a high level of intoxication as evidence of the various witnesses and a degree of verbal abuse aimed at them.
‘There were concerns raised by a number of passengers and consideration was also given to diverting the plane.
‘For these reasons I take the view a fine is insufficient and inadequate and it should be a matter for the crown court to deal with it.’