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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 17:29 GMT
REM star 'ransacked' plane cabin
Peter Buck
Guitarist Peter Buck denies the charges
An air stewardess told a court on Tuesday she was "scared to death" that REM guitarist Peter Buck would stab someone during an alleged drinking bout on a flight.

Mr Buck, 45, denies one charge of being drunk on an aircraft, two counts of common assault against air stewards and one charge of damaging British Airways crockery.

The alleged incidents happened during a flight from Seattle to Heathrow in April 2001.

The first-class cabin looked as if it had been ransacked

Nara Incecchi
BA steward Nara Incecchi told the jury at at Isleworth Crown Court, west London, that Mr Buck tried to hide a knife up his sleeve after scattering cutlery all over the floor.

The guitarist had gone into the airplane's galley, followed by another member of the cabin crew, hours into the Boeing 747 flight.

Trolley 'lifted up'

Ms Incecchi said: "There was a big trolley there with all the first-class stuff for breakfast.

"He reached for the trolley and virtually lifted it, with quite a lot of strength, and threw it over."

You're just a f*****g captain and I'm REM

Peter Buck's alleged riposte to pilot
The contents of the trolley, including 10 breakfast trays and various kinds of food, were tipped all over the floor.

"The first-class cabin looked as if it had been ransacked," said Ms Incecchi.

"There was a mess all over the floor, with knives and forks everywhere."

The steward told the court she began gathering the cutlery up, adding: "I thought there are knives on the floor, he's drunk, he's going to grab a knife and someone is going to be injured."

'Drinking continuously'

Ms Incecchi alleged that Mr Buck, while also trying to gather up cutlery, tried to hide a knife up his sleeve, but was prevented by fellow steward Holly Ward.

Purser Janis Hawkins told the jury that Mr Buck and his tour manager, Robert Whittaker, had been drinking continuously since before take-off.

Both men were on their way to London for REM's performance at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Day concert in Trafalgar Square.

I thought there might be a danger that [Buck] might hit somebody with the spoon

Ravinder Singh
"They seemed to be excited, as if they were enjoying the trip. They reminded me of two schoolboys on a jolly," said Ms Hawkins.

Mr Whittaker smeared his face in melted ice-cream and laughed, she said.

She also told the jury she was asked to investigate a complaint about the condition of the toilet after it had been used by Mr Buck.

"The floor was pretty wet. I thought there was a possibility that he had missed the pan and thought that maybe I shouldn't be serving him more wine," she said.

Another passenger, American Linda Christiansen, said Mr Buck claimed she was his wife, and tried to sit next to her in business class - although three flight attendants tried to prevent him doing so.

Buck 'accused crew'

"While he was struggling with the flight attendants he squeezed a pot of yoghurt and it burst and went all over them and the seat," she said.

Ms Ward said Buck turned on head steward Mario Agius after the struggle.

When captain Tom Payne arrived on the scene, Buck was said to have accused the cabin crew of drinking and assaulting him.

Buck taunted Mr Payne by saying "you're just a f*****g captain and I'm REM" when he was given a warning about his behaviour, the court heard.

Steward Ravinder Singh told the court that the musician hurled abuse at the captain as he warned him that he could be arrested by police when the plane landed in London.

Spoon danger

Mr Singh said he had initially grabbed the guitarist from behind when he was brandishing a spoon and struggling with Mr Agius and Ms Ward in the aisle.

"I thought there might be a danger that he might hit somebody with the spoon.

"He was moving it backward and forward in the direction of Mr Agius."

The steward was then ordered by the captain to keep a close watch on Buck, who eventually fell asleep in the business class section two hours before touchdown.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday.

See also:

18 Mar 02 | England
REM star 'behaved like lout'
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