Drunken Frenchman fined over flight disruption
HAMILTON, Bermuda, (CMC):
A drunken Frenchman who caused the captain of the German airline, Lufthansa, to divert the aircraft to Bermuda yesterday has been fined US$1,000.
“In this current climate of uncertainty, terrorism and concern over air travel, this kind of behaviour cannot be treated lightly,” Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo said, adding that an absolute discharge would not be acceptable.
Benoit Becuwe, a 28-year-old teacher, of no known address, admitted in Magistrates’ Court to being drunk on the flight. He also pleaded guilty to behaving in a disorderly manner towards crew members.
The court heard that Becuwe boarded the plane in Panama City, Panama, on Monday and was served “a few” alcoholic drinks.
He later approached staff for more and became loud and aggressive when he was told by the crew that they were no longer serving alcohol on the flight to Frankfurt, Germany.
About 20 minutes later, and after repeated attempts to calm him down, crew members warned him he would be restrained if he did not settle down.
But he became aggressive towards a female flight attendant, was put in plastic handcuffs, and the flight diverted to Bermuda.
Airport operators Bermuda Skyport said later that the aircraft, with 258 passengers and 14 crew, was boarded by the Bermuda Police Service, who removed Becuwe.
In court, Becuwe, with the assistance of a translator, apologised for his behaviour. Duty counsel Vaughan Caines said Becuwe drank because he had anxiety and wanted to sleep.
He also pointed out that the defendant had no previous convictions and requested an absolute discharge.
Magistrate Tokunbo handed Becuwe a US$500 fine on each count, to be paid immediately or face 20 days in prison.