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Tuesday, 26 March, 2002, 14:36 GMT
REM star 'drunk not drugged'
Guitarist Peter Buck with wife Stephanie
Peter Buck said he suffered a proven medical condition
REM star Peter Buck's alleged rampage on a plane was caused by alcohol and not a sleeping tablet, a doctor has told a court.

The rock guitarist had told Isleworth Crown Court his alleged violence was probably due to "drug-induced automatism".

But psychiatrist Nadji Kahtan said Mr Buck's attempt to exit the plane six miles above the Atlantic was one of several incidents that suggested he was merely drunk on red wine.

Mr Buck, 45, denies one count of being drunk on the plane, two allegations of common assault on cabin staff and one offence of damaging British Airways property.

Blame

The alleged incidents happened on a British Airways flight from Seattle to Heathrow last April.

The prosecution has claimed Mr Buck spent much of the 10-hour flight drinking red wine and behaving like a lout.

It was alleged he attacked two cabin staff and covered them in yoghurt, then knocked over a trolley and tried to steal a knife.

But Mr Buck said an Ambien sleeping tablet taken with red wine had caused a personality disorder from which he did not "awake" until he was in a police cell.
Guitarist Peter Buck with other members of REM
REM are one of the world's most famous bands

This explanation was contradicted by Dr Kahtan, who said Mr Buck demonstrated he had known what a door was for and had therefore had an ability to process information.

And Mr Buck's alleged attempt to rifle the jumbo's first class galley for more alcohol after being told he had had enough was a further example of drunkenness, the doctor added.

Similarly, the prosecution's claim that Buck threatened to blame cabin crew for the violence did not indicate drug-induced automatism.

Bono

For such a condition to be present his actions would have had to have been "divorced from his mind", said Dr Kahtan.

Although six thousand million of the sleeping tablets had been taken worldwide, the doctor said he had never heard of one case of automatism caused by the medication taken with or without alcohol.

On Monday, U2 singer Bono gave evidence as a character witness and said he had never seen Mr Buck, his friend of 17 years, drunk or on drugs.

The case continues.

See also:

25 Mar 02 | UK
Bono defends REM guitarist
18 Mar 02 | England
REM star 'behaved like lout'
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