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Drunk passenger jailed after tirade of abuse on Virgin flight

The passenger had smoked in the toilets and even spat at a staff member.



A drunken and disruptive passenger who repeatedly abused staff on a flight from Gatwick to St Lucia has been jailed.

36-year-old Uche Ezedinma had to be physically restrained and caused the Virgin Atlantic aircraft to be diverted due to his persistently poor behaviour.

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A statement from Sussex Police says,

“He was verbally and physically aggressive throughout, which included spitting at a member of staff, punching the overhead storage and threatening numerous other cabin crew.”

He also smoked a cigarette in the toilet, which is strictly prohibited by airlines.

Mr Ezedinma had been travelling in the company of his mother, a further 247 passengers and 10 crew members on the Airbus A330 to St Lucia on 28 January 2017.

But less than half way into the journey, it was diverted to the Azores in Portugal to offload Ezedinma, of Elgin Road, Croydon, Surrey, and continue its journey.

Sussex Police say this was due to safety concerns for the aircraft and those on board, and it was a decision not taken lightly by the captain – it was the first time in 20 years as a Virgin pilot he had to divert a flight due to passenger behaviour.

Ezedinma was removed from the plane by local officers, and the remaining passengers were required to disembark to enable the plane to refuel – this was as a result of the extra fuel consumed by the diversion, and caused a significant disruption.

Following this, the flight resumed without any further issues, and the incident was reported to Sussex Police.

A protracted enquiry process via Interpol was undertaken to determine what action the Portuguese authorities had taken, and it was confirmed the defendant was allowed on his way after just two hours of administrative paperwork.

Investigators at Gatwick Police conducted an investigation and gained sufficient evidence to present to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and Ezedinma was subsequently charged with being drunk in an aircraft and negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person therein.

“the sentence imposed sends a clear message to others that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated.”

At Lewes Crown Court on Tuesday 26 June, he was sentenced to a total of 14 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay a £140 victim surcharge.

Detective Sergeant Patrick Sweeney, of Gatwick Investigations, said:

“The language, attitude and behaviour displayed by Ezedinma throughout the flight was completely unacceptable. No passenger or crew should have to experience such abject abuse on board an aircraft, and the sentence imposed sends a clear message to others that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated.

“There are numerous signs on board every aircraft which indicate smoking is strictly prohibited, and Ezedinma blatantly ignored these signs, potentially causing a real danger to the aircraft and those on board.”

In May, Sussex Police launched its annual summer crackdown on disruptive passengers in partnership with Gatwick Airport.

The operation aims to prevent drunken and disruptive behaviour on flights and in the airport through early engagement with passengers.

Det Sgt Sweeney added:

“This case demonstrates that while we increase resources for our summer campaign, we will continue to detect and deter disruptive behaviour 365 days and year. It further demonstrates that we will deal robustly with anyone who fails to comply with the law, which is clearly outlined at various locations throughout Gatwick Airport.

“It is an offence to be drunk on board an aircraft, and passengers need to be aware of their own responsibilities before they board a flight. By all means have fun, but don’t ruin it for yourself or anyone else.”

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said:

“The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority, and we will not tolerate disruptive or abusive behaviour on board any Virgin Atlantic aircraft.

“We continue to work closely with the relevant authorities and will always seek prosecution for those individuals that cause disruption to our services through unacceptable behaviour.”


Gatwick launches UK’s first electric car sharing service

The 100% electric vehicles produce zero emissions which supports Gatwick’s carbon neutral status.



Ten 'Blue City' electric cars on Gatwick's airfield.

In a UK airport first, passengers, staff and local residents can now reserve and pick up a 100% electric car at Gatwick – and return it to any of 300 compatible pick up/ drop off points across London or back at Gatwick – the airport announced yesterday.

The service – similar to schemes popular in other parts of the world – is being rolled out in partnership with Bluecity, the only company to operate a pan-London electric vehicle car sharing service with 100 cars currently available in total.

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Discussions are also ongoing with local authorities and business groups about expanding the network further in London and in areas surrounding the airport.

Operating in a similar way to existing cycle schemes across the capital, ten cars and charging points are currently available on Gatwick’s South Terminal forecourt. This is Bluecity’s first airport hub and discussions are in progress to increase capacity.

The new point to point service gives people using the airport a convenient, zero emissions travel option for getting directly on and off the airport and is purposely designed to be easy to locate and use, with customers able to reserve a car in seconds via the Bluecity app.

Local residents are also encouraged to use the service and Gatwick staff have also been offered the opportunity to trial the service for free.

A standard journey in a Bluecity car from central London is also an affordable travel option to the airport. The four-seater’s drive from Central London to the very front of the airport will cost around £15 in moderate traffic.

The service is also flexible and works both ways, so that those travelling to Gatwick from the capital can pick up a car at any of the London-based charging points and drop it off at the airport.

Car sharing is also growing in popularity in the UK and this new partnership represents another first in Gatwick’s journey to be the UK’s most sustainable airport. Gatwick is accredited as a carbon neutral airport, uses 100% renewable electricity and 44% of passengers currently get to the airport by public transport.

The 24,000 staff on Gatwick’s airport campus and local residents are also being encouraged to use the new electric car sharing service.

Gatwick Airport’s Chief Commercial Officer Guy Stephenson said:

“Gatwick leads the way on airport innovation and this UK airport first not only offers a new, flexible option for getting on and off the airport, it also improves air quality.

“When it comes to electric car sharing schemes, few companies have experienced the success of Bluecity and its parent company. Given the popular demand for similar electric car sharing services in other parts of the world, this new service has the potential to take off in the UK and we are proud to be at the forefront of this transport revolution.”

Bluecity’s Managing Director Christophe Arnaud said:

“We are particularly proud of this milestone agreement with Gatwick Airport and look forward to our collaboration for years to come. We believe this new service is a fantastic solution for travellers. Our cars are powered exclusively with 100% renewable energy making the service the greenest and most affordable transport option to and from Central London.”

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