Judge in Ballymena hits out at boozing ahead of flights after would-be passenger's airport antics are revealed

Judge in Ballymena hits out at boozing ahead of flights after would-be passenger's airport antics are revealed

A JUDGE in Ballymena slammed the amount of alcohol air passengers are downing after a court heard a man, late for his flight, burst through a departure gate and ran onto the tarmac at Belfast International Airport.

Nicholas Sibuele (31), with an address listed as Fishponds Road in Sheffield, admitted being disorderly; assaulting a female and entering a 'restricted zone of an aerodrome without permission'.

He also caused criminal damage by urinating and spitting in a police cell van which cost £45 to be cleaned.

On Tueday, Antrim Magistrates' Court, sitting in Ballymena, heard that at 4.30pm on April 14 this year police were tasked to Stand 16 after a report that a male was being abusive to Swissport staff.

Police were told the defendant had missed his flight to Manchester "due to the gate being closed" but Sibuele then "used another gate, pushing past, a Swissport staff member, forcing his way onto the apron to attempt to get his flight".

The prosecutor said the defendant had not presented his boarding card and it had not been scanned at the gate.

The court heard that prior to police arrival, the staff member who Sibuele had pushed past, "chased him onto the apron, stopped him and requested his documents".

The prosecutor said the defendant refused to provide his documents to the member of staff and threw his backpack at her, hitting her on the hip and elbow and she feared he was going to "hit her".

The court heard Sibuele "kept coming up into her face, staring at her with glazed eyes and shouting that he was going to get onto the aircraft no matter what she said".

Sibuele then "sat down and refused to move" and was "shouting and screaming at the injured party".

Police escorted him to the 'domestic arrivals area' and despite requests to calm down he continued to shout at officers in front of members of the public.

When interviewed, the defendant claimed he "couldn't remember any of the events as he had been drinking".

He said he had continually requested to use the toilet whilst being in a cell van for over an hour but, the prosecutor said, police had checked on him regularly and no requests to use the toilet had been made.

The court heard the defendant had a previously clear record.

A defence solicitor said Sibuele had been in the UK since 2014 and "had been trying to successfully seek asylum since then".

He had been required to "try to gather up money through family in order to instruct a lawyer to assist him" and after he spoke to a "female online" who said she could "offer him some help" he ended up travelling to Belfast which ended up being a "wild goose chase".

The defendant's lawyer told the court the offending was "out of character" and "fuelled" by alcohol.

She said Sibuele was "extremely apologetic" and he was "appalled and shocked" at his own behaviour.

The lawyer said the defendant is "prohibited from seeking employment and his financial situation is dire. He is directly reliant upon his aunt, with whom he is living, to give him £100 a month to try to get by".

The solicitor said the defendant had been "at breaking point in relation to attempting to secure his place in the UK".

District Judge Nigel Broderick, told the defendant who appeared via a video link: "This behaviour was quite despicable. Alcohol is no excuse and were it not for fact that you have entered a plea of guilty and have a clear record the court could easily have imposed a custodial sentence.

"This case just highlights the dangers that are associated with taking alcohol when conducting travel such as air travel. I see too many of these cases.

"Those who engage in air travel should consume far less alcohol, especially if they are unable to handle it, which is clearly the case in your position".

The judge put the defendant on Probation for a year and ordered him to do 120 hours of Community Service and pay £45 compensation for the cell van clean-up.

The defendant told the court: "I'm sorry for my behaviour".

  • Main picture: Belfast International Airport.