A pair of airline passengers from the United Kingdom whose unruly behaviour forced their plane to land in Winnipeg last week will both spend time in jail and each pay $100,000 in restitution after pleading guilty on Tuesday to charges stemming from their drunken antics.
James Iontton, 25, and Natalie Louise Walker, 34, were on a flight from London, U.K. to Los Cabos, Mexico, Thursday when a fellow passenger told Global News Iontton got drunk and began threatening passengers and staff.
After airline staff restrained Iontton in his seat, the plane made an unscheduled stop in Winnipeg, where police boarded the plane and arrested him.
But before the plane could take off again, police were called back to remove and arrest Walker, who was also accused of causing a disturbance.
The pair, who police say aren’t related, appeared in a Winnipeg courtroom Tuesday.
Crown attorney Peter Edgett told court Iontton ordered a drink every time the cart passed by, and the trouble started when he was eventually cut off by airline staff.
“He didn’t react to this well,” Edgett said.
A fellow passenger previously told Global News Iontton had several glasses of wine and was soon “stumbling in the aisle” and threatening his fellow passengers.
Edgett told court Walker, who was travelling with a friend, had a few of the airline’s drinks, too, but also started drinking her own duty-free gin, which she had brought onto the flight.
He said passengers said she was being rude and saying racist things throughout the flight, but things got worse as the plane started its descent into Winnipeg.
He said Walker stood up instead of remaining buckled in her seat.
According to passengers, Walker also, for some reason, threw her legs up in the air and pretended to give birth.
Edgett said Walker was warned to calm down, but that didn’t work, and the RCMP were called back to take her into custody as well.
Edgett told court Iontton yelled and swore at officers when they boarded the plane to arrest him. He said Iontton elbowed an officer in the chest and tried to knee him when he put him in handcuffs.
Video from inside the plane posted online shows fellow passengers cheering as he is led off the flight.
Once lodged in a cell, police say Iontton punched walls and tried to challenge police to a fight.
Edgett said Iontton’s behaviour was the reason for the unscheduled landing, but it was Walker’s behaviour that kept the flight grounded in Winnipeg for the night.
That meant passengers waiting to fly back from Mexico were also impacted, and the airline says in all 910 passengers were affected, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses, Edgett said.
“We’re dealing with something extraordinary here,” Edgett told court.
Defence lawyer Amado Claros represented both Walker and Iontton, telling the court neither has a criminal record in the United Kingdom.
Iontton, who works in construction, apologized to passengers, airline staff and police.
“I’m going to make a change, stop drinking altogether,” he said.
Claros said Walker’s behaviour on the flight is “completely out of character.”
“Ms. Walker is truly embarrassed,” she said.
Walker was sentenced to 30 days behind bars minus time served, which means she’ll spend another 23 days in custody.
She was also given a 30-day period of unsupervised probation and ordered not to consume drugs or alcohol.
Iontton was sentenced to 30 days in custody and also given a 30-day period of unsupervised probation, with orders not to drink or do drugs.
Both were ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution as well as a $200 victim surcharge.
Claros, who is also an immigration lawyer, tells Global News both Walker and Iontton will likely be sent straight back to to the United Kingdom upon their release.
–With files from Diana Foxall