Drunk easyJet passenger, 51, who grabbed air hostess by throat on flight to Malta is jailed

Drunk easyJet passenger, 51, who grabbed air hostess by the throat after she told him off for clambering over two people on flight to Malta for his birthday is jailed for six months

  • Colin Smith, 51,  lashed out at easyJet cabin crew member Carley Griffiths 
  • He grabbed Miss Griffiths by the throat while trying to stagger to the jet’s toilet 
  • Smith admitted in court to being drunk on an aircraft and assault by beating 
  • He has since been jailed for six months for the attack on a flight to Malta in 2022 

A drunk easyJet passenger who grabbed an air hostess by the throat after she told him off for clambering over two people on a flight to Malta for his 50th birthday has been jailed for six months. 

Colin Smith, 51, downed three-quarters of a bottle of duty-free whisky before the flight from Manchester on March 28 last year. 

A court heard the crane operator then drunkenly attacked flight attendant Carley Griffith after she told him to sit down again as he tried to use the toilet while the seatbelt signs were on. 

Miss Griffith broke free of his grip and pushed him back, causing the sunseeker to fall over. After being restrained, Smith was led off the aircraft by police with his mortified long-term partner Hayley Whitehand telling staff: ‘I told him he shouldn’t drink whisky.’ 

Colin Smith downed three quarters of a bottle of whisky to help with his 'fear of flying' - before then attacking an easyJet stewardess. He is pictured outside Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester

Colin Smith downed three quarters of a bottle of whisky to help with his ‘fear of flying’ – before then attacking an easyJet stewardess. He is pictured outside Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester 

Smith, pictured with his partner Hayley Whitehand, had been travelling to Malta to mark his 50th birthday. He has now been jailed for six months

Smith, pictured with his partner Hayley Whitehand, had been travelling to Malta to mark his 50th birthday. He has now been jailed for six months 

He was later arrested a week later in the UK, admitting that he had strangled the stewardess and telling police that he was ‘nine out of ten’ drunk after drinking most of a bottle of Famous Grouse whisky.

Smith has now been jailed for six months after admitting being drunk on an aircraft and assault by beating.

Judge Tina Landale told Smith: ‘This incident happened on board a flight full of holidaymakers, which only adds to the severity of your actions.

‘Your drunkenness was extreme, you were intoxicated to such an extent that you were described as being in a trance-like state. Passengers thought you had a medical condition.

‘This attack occurred at the stage that causes the most danger for staff and passengers alike. This is an extremely serious case, the scene must have caused tremendous fear for all those passengers and staff members in the vicinity.

‘Your actions were persistent and sustained and entirely unacceptable behaviour to take against someone that is just trying to carry out their duty.

‘The extraordinary facts of your offence mean that a deterrent sentence is required. There is a special duty for all of those who travel on an aircraft to act carefully and safely.’ 

EasyJet flight attendant Carley Griffith had warned Smith to sit down before she was assaulted by him 'without warning' (stock image)

EasyJet flight attendant Carley Griffith had warned Smith to sit down before she was assaulted by him ‘without warning’ (stock image)

In police interview, Smith admitted he was about a 'nine-out-of-10' on the scale of drunkenness. He is pictured smoking outside Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester

In police interview, Smith admitted he was about a ‘nine-out-of-10’ on the scale of drunkenness. He is pictured smoking outside Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester 

In a statement Miss Griffiths said: ‘I was upset and anxious after what happened on the flight and initially I was not wanting to return to work as I was scared of further assaults in the future.’

In mitigation, defence counsel Collette Renton said her client had a fear of flying which contributed to his heavy drinking and his memory and recollection of the incident was ‘fragmented’.

‘The defendant is in an exceptional circumstance as he has three caring responsibilities,’ she added.

‘He cares for his stepmother, who is 73 years old and has later-stage Alzheimer’s needs and who recently lost her husband. The defendant must also care for his partner, Ms Whitehead, who experiences mental health issues.

‘On top of this, he also cares for his step-daughter, who has a range of complex care needs.

‘This incident took place en route to one of the couple’s very few respite trips and one of the first that they were due to have since the Covid pandemic. The holiday was a long pre-arranged break in caring responsibilities for one week to celebrate the defendant’s 50th birthday.

‘It is perhaps fortunate this incident occurred towards the end of the flight when he could be removed from the aircraft soon afterwards. But he does apologise for the impact he has caused.’

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