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Qantas puncher and spitter goes to jail and pays for fuel

September 26, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A punching and spitting Qantas passenger whose drunken violence turned a pre-Christmas flight to Japan into a bitter and frightening experience for his fellow travellers has been jailed, fined and made to repay Qantas almost AUD 40,000.

The money represents what it cost Qantas to dump fuel before making an emergency diversion to Cairns.

Perth magistrate Dianne Scaddan jailed Justin Richard Cooke after Cooke pleaded guilty to seven federal offences stemming from his drunken behaviour on a flight from Perth to Japan via Sydney on 17 December 2012, the West Australian newspaper reported.EGT_Artical Banner A 250x250

Cooke’s behaviour made headlines shortly after it happened and was reported by e-Global Travel Media: Drunken punches and spit made Qantas flight divert, court told.

ABC News reported at the time that the plane had to dump 60,000 litres of fuel before it could land. That quantity of fuel was worth about AUD47,650 at the going rate, according to IATA’s Jet Fuel Price Monitor. Prosecutors  allege that Cooke swigged a bottle of duty-free vodka, lit a cigarette in the plane’s toilet and then, when confronted, punched a crewmember and spat in his face.

In Perth on Tuesday, Magistrate Scaddan described Cooke’s behaviour as drunken, aggressive and obnoxious.

As well as the punching and spitting, Cooke had threatened to kill the crewmember’s family, the court heard. He had been restrained in flexi-cuffs as the plane diverted to  Cairns.

The magistrate said that although Cooke pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, she wasn’t satisfied he appreciated the effect of his action on the other 351 passengers aboard the flight. She said Cooke’s behaviour was appalling and the spitting was “degrading and disgusting”, the paper reported.

Although Cooke was sentenced to nine months in prison, he will be released after four months on a AUD 3000 good-behaviour bond. The court ordered that he pay reparation of AUD 39,287 to cover the cost of the fuel Qantas had to dump before making the emergency landing. Additionally, he was fined AUD 2250.

Written by : Peter Needham

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