A liquor-swigging grandmother from Perth headbutted seats and swore at Qantas cabin crew before landing a solid punch on the face of another passenger that resulted in a trans-Tasman flight turning back, a court has heard.
The victim of the punch, bleeding profusely, is said to have helped cabin crew restrain and handcuff the drunken granny – but the air rage incident forced the New Zealand-bound Qantas flight back to Melbourne, the Melbourne Age reported.
The accused, Frances Macaskill, 58, from Perth, pleaded guilty yesterday to one charge of offensive and disorderly behaviour on board an aircraft and one charge of assault, the paper said. She will be sentenced today and could theoretically face two years jail and a fine of up to AUD5500.
The disturbance occurred aboard Qantas flight QF37, heading from Melbourne to Wellington on Saturday morning. Macaskill was seated in 8F on Qantas flight QF37. The flight is generally operated by a B737-800 and 8F is an economy-class window seat five rows back from business class.
Crew observed Macaskill drinking alcohol she had bought duty free at Melbourne Airport before boarding, the court heard.
Macaskill is accused of punching a fellow passenger (male, according to TVNZ reports) seated in the row in front of her. The blow was so powerful it cut the right side of the victim’s face and caused heavy bleeding, Commonwealth prosecutor Lauren Gurry told the court.
Even after being restrained, placed in flexi-cuffs and moved to the rear of aircraft, Macaskill allegedly continued to yell profanities and headbutt the seat in front of her. The flight returned to Melbourne – a diversion said to have cost Qantas almost AUD20,000.
According to reports in the Age and in New Zealand, Macaskill said via her defence lawyer that she had no memory of the events but was shocked and appalled to learn of her behaviour. She realised that she had an underlying problem with alcohol.
Written by Peter Needham