AN American national was fined €1,000, this Wednesday, after he pleaded guilty to charges relating to an incident on board a transatlantic flight, which was diverted to Shannon Airport.
Limerick District Court was told Jody Bochner, aged 28, who has an address in Miami, Florida was arrested in Shannon on Tuesday evening.
He was a passenger on board a Norwegian Air flight from London Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale which was diverted around 40 minutes after it had taken off.
After Mr Bochner was removed from the plane, the flight, which had more than 260 passengers on board, continued onto the United States.
It is understood the cost of the incident to the airline was around €100,000.
In her evidence, Garda Karen Walsh said the 28-year-old replied “no, I did not tell anyone when they brought me in”, and “I don’t understand anything you say,” when he was formally charged with three offences. under the provisions of the Air Navigation Act.
The defendant, who works as a barman admitted being intoxicated on board the flight to such an extent that he posed a danger to himself and others; engaging in behaviour likely to cause serious offence to persons on board the plane and breach of the peace by using threatening and abusive behaviour.
Judge Aeneas McCarthy was told cabin crew were initially alerted to the behaviour of the defendant when a smoke alarm in one of the lavatories on board the plane was activated.
The court heard at this point an e-cigarette was taken from Jody Bochner and that he was returned to his seat.
However, around 20 minutes later the defendant became disruptive and was verbally abusive towards cabin crew.
Garda Walsh said this resulted in several passengers having to be moved from their seats.
As Mr Bochner continued to be disruptive, he then leapt onto a seat and attempted to strike a male crew member before being restrained and handcuffed, with the help of passengers.
Garda Walsh said the defendant was very aggressive when he disembarked from the plane at Shannon Airport at around 6.15pm on Tuesday and that he smelt of alcohol.
However she acknowledged that he was a “totally different man” the following morning.
Solicitor Stiofan Fitzpatrick said the incident was extremely unfortunate and that there was no rhyme nor reason for his client’s actions.
He said Mr Bochner was returning to America after visiting his girlfriend in London and that he had taken drink to help him sleep on the long flight.
Mr Fitzpatrick said the 28-year-old has no recollection of the incident and was anxious to return to the United States as he is the sole carer for his elderly grandparents.
Judge McCarthy imposed a €1,000 fine.