Intoxicated 'air rage' passenger kicked and punched police officers on plane at Belfast International Airport

Intoxicated 'air rage' passenger kicked and punched police officers on plane at Belfast International Airport

AN intoxicated passenger became disorderly in an 'air rage' incident on a plane as it sat at Belfast International Airport where she kicked and punched police officers, calling one a "f*cking ugly t*at".

Pauline Girvan (51), of Gordonstown Avenue, Larne, pleaded guilty to two charges of assaulting police; being disorderly and behaving 'in a threatening, abusive, insulting or disorderly manner towards a member of the crew of an aircraft' on March 7, 2020.

Sentencing had been deferred for six months and when the defendant appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court, via a video link from her solicitor's office on Thursday, it was heard Girvan had not re-offended and had engaged with Probation.

A prosecutor told the court that at 7pm police were called to a Ryanair plane sitting at Stand 25 ahead of going to Malaga as staff wanted a "disruptive passenger" taken off.

Officers noted Girvan appeared to be intoxicated and she started shouting at police.

When told staff wanted her to leave, she said: "You will regret doing that to me" and shouted: "I'm going nowhere".

She used abusive language and punched a police officer on the face, knocking his glasses off.

When arrested for assault and cautioned she shouted: "Big deal" and said police were to "get off her".

When restrained and removed physically from her seat she continued to struggle and shout towards police.

As she was being taken down the aircraft aisle she struck a police officer to the left side of their neck and jaw with her forearm causing bruising.

She knocked a police officer off balance and shouted: "You f*cking ugly t*at".

At the front of the aircraft she struggled free from police and "lay back against the passengers who were seated on Row 1 of the aircraft and continued to kick out at police".

Girvan "lunged" at a police officer with "considerable force," knocking her against the bulkhead of the aircraft, causing her to be "winded" and knocking her body camera off her body armour.

The prosecutor continued: "Whilst being escorted down the steps of the aircraft she kicked against the steps, forcing herself and a police officer to fall backwards and this caused the police officer to fall from the aircraft steps onto the tarmac injuring the officer's head and back".

The defendant continued "with bad language" and struggled and shouted. She was handcuffed and had limb restraints applied.

She continued to shout and kick out at police and was placed in a cell van where she continued with "abusive language".

Girvan was taken to Antrim Police Station.

District Judge Nigel Broderick asked if airlines could serve passengers with notices refusing future travel or "placing conditions such as no alcohol".

The prosecutor said she believed airlines could refuse to allow people to travel.

The judge added: "I presume she had consumed this alcohol before she boarded the plane" and the prosecutor said the plane was "still on the stand".

Defence barrister Michael Boyd said there had been a "delay to the flight taking off which was one of the problems in that obviously more drink was consumed and there was a level of frustration in the air."

He said Girvan was "getting particularly anxious and frustrated" but he said that was "no excuse obviously for what was completely deplorable behaviour".

The lawyer said he accepted that when the case was mentioned in court last July the defendant had been a "hair's breadth" away from going to prison but the judge had "generously allowed her a chance to address her mental health issues and also her alcohol problems".

Mr Boyd said Girvan had "being doing really well indeed" and co-operated with Probation.

Judge Broderick handed down a five months prison sentence, suspended for three years, which he told the defendant was "hanging over your head to act as an incentive not to re-offend" and also fined her £200.

  • Main picture: Belfast International Airport.