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Senior US judge will sentence Aussie woman for flight assault

March 25, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A distinguished judge, who once declared the California death penalty to be unconstitutional, will sentence an Australian woman who drunkenly assaulted a flight attendant while flying from Melbourne to Los Angeles. She faces the prospect of spending the next 21 years in a US prison.

The incident was reported by Global Travel Media at the weekend. See: Aussie woman who slapped attendant faces 21 years prison

A US jury found 24-year-old Adau Akui Atem Mornyang of Victoria guilty of the felony charge of interference with a flight crew and a misdemeanour assault charge after the incident on United Airlines flight UA99 from Melbourne to Los Angeles International Airport on 21 January 2019.

9 News in Australia described Mornyang today as an “Australian model” who was born in South Sudan and moved to Australia aged 10 as a refugee.

Be that as it may, the US court heard Mornyang had to be restrained by two US federal air marshals after she shouted obscenities and threats at passengers and crew.

The flight attendant recruitment and news website, run by Mateusz Maszczynski, “a serving international flight attendant with experience at a major Middle East and European airline” has cited court documents on the case saying flight attendants decided to stop serving the apparently intoxicated Mornyang, after she had downed five or six small of bottles of wine and started making a nuisance of herself.

About nine hours into the approximately 14-hour flight on a B787 Dreamliner, Mornyang started talking to herself and then began “screaming profanities and waving her arms around in her seat”.

A statement from the US Attorney’s office said: “When the flight attendant approached to assess the situation, Mornyang began to shout at the flight attendant and then slapped him across his face.

“The flight attendant attempted to restrain Mornyang until federal air marshals could assist. The federal air marshals were forced to stay with Mornyang in the rear galley of the plane for the remainder of the flight.” said attempts to get Mornyang to return to her seat ended in her throwing her socks at other passengers, leaning into people’s faces, screaming and flailing her arms about.

One of the air marshals described Mornyang as the worst disruptive passenger he had encountered in 10 years of service with the agency, the site said.

The charging and conviction of Mornyang under federal felony provisions indicates how seriously US authorities view such in-flight behaviour.

“Mornyang faces a statutory maximum sentence of 21 years” in a US federal prison, the US Attorney’s office has confirmed.

United Dreamliner

“Statutory maximum” means the upper limit, the highest amount of punishment a person can receive.

Scheduled to sentence Mornyang is United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney, a highly experienced judge whose qualifications include J.D. (Juris Doctor) from the Harvard Law School.

Judge Carney has handled complex civil and criminal matters, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, securities, business finance, civil rights, drug conspiracies and white-collar crime.

Judge Carney’s declaration in 2014 that the California death penalty was unconstitutional received much news coverage. The judge said the death penalty was so arbitrary and plagued with delays that it violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

In his 29-page order on that matter, the judge vacated the death sentence of Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was sentenced be executed in 1995 for rape and murder. Carney’s order was appealed by then California Attorney General Kamala Harris, and the decision was overturned, though California has not executed anyone since 2006.

Judge Carney is scheduled to pass sentence on Mornyang on 24 June 2019.

Written by Peter Needham

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