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Manchester Evening News
August 19, 2011
A passenger flew into a rage and attacked two members of cabin crew during a holiday flight from Manchester to the Dominican Republic.
Charity worker Carol Close bit, kicked and punched flight attendants after going berserk on the Thomson Airlines flight.
Her behaviour became so bad that her own husband, then passengers sitting nearby, had to be moved for safety reasons.
She twice had to be forcibly restrained and put in handcuffs.
Eventually, the pilot became so concerned that he issued a Mayday call asking to make an emergency landing in Bermuda.
Passengers were so relieved to be rid of Close they cheered when police officers boarded to arrest her.
Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court was told that Close, 45, bit a cabin steward and hit him in the chest, and then bit a stewardess and kicked her in the stomach during the fracas on November 5 last year.
Sentencing, Judge Timothy Mort told Close said he felt able to suspend her six-month jail term for 18 months because it was a ‘wholly exceptional’ case.
Nicola Wells, prosecuting, said that Close admitted drinking half a pint of lager and two Bacardis at Manchester Airport before boarding the aircraft.
Cabin crew and fellow passengers first noticed a problem half way through the six-hour flight, when she began hitting her husband. He was moved, but Close got up on her seat and began shouting.
Nearby passengers were also moved and the pilot ordered that she be restrained. During attempts to put handcuffs on her, cabin steward Michael Dewitt was bitten and hit.
The restraints were removed when Close calmed down, but she started shouting and was cuffed again.
After Close continued to shout abuse, the captain decided to make an emergency landing in Bermuda, which was nearer than their destination.
Continued efforts were made to calm the woman, but as stewardess Caroline Cross tried to deal with her, she was also bitten and kicked.
Robert Mann, defending, said his client’s actions were completely out of character.
She suffered from anxiety and depression, which had been made worse by a 30-hour delay, then a technical hitch once passengers had boarded.
He said she had taken anti-depressants, painkillers for arthritis, and a modest amount of drink and was nervous.
Close, from Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, pleaded guilty to two charges of assault, and a further charge of affray.
She was ordered to pay £2,476 costs to the Bermuda Police and £200 compensation to each of the cabin crew she assaulted. She must also observe a two-month curfew.