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Sunday, November 1, 1998 Published at 19:00 GMT


Air hostess hits back at bottle attacker

Fiona Weir: I was just trying to do my job

The air hostess attacked with a vodka bottle by a violent passenger has hit out at his accusations that she had aggravated him.

She said: "I am deeply upset and angry about everything he has been saying.

"I was just trying to do my job."

The BBC's Chris West: "Steven Handy didn't like the way the stewardess spoke to him"
Newly wed Fiona Weir, 31, needed 18 stitches after being hit over the head by Steven Handy, of Dover, Kent, on a flight from Gatwick to Malaga on Thursday.

Unemployed Mr Handy, 37, who was released from custody and conditionally bailed by a Malaga court on charges of endangering an aircraft and assault, blamed his behaviour on the air hostess.

[ image: Steven Handy: Released on bail]
Steven Handy: Released on bail
Emerging from the court missing a shoe and dressed in a dirty tracksuit he said: "She asked me to sit down but I didn't like the way she said it. She was aggressive so I did her.

"If someone starts on me I'll go for them, even if it's a woman."

Scottish-born Ms Weir, of Wimbledon, south-west London, arrived home from Spain on Sunday "in agony" after an operation to have a piece of glass embedded in her head removed.

Fiona Weir: This man will not intimidate me
She said that as soon as the flight left, she knew Mr Handy would cause trouble.

Mr Handy had been drinking and he immediately broke airline rules by smoking in the toilets.

It was only when she threatened to tell Spanish police of his behaviour that he attacked her with a vodka bottle.

[ image: Four passengers pinned the attacker to the ground at Malaga]
Four passengers pinned the attacker to the ground at Malaga
As she described the moment she was hit, Ms Weir broke down in tears and said: "I am sorry, I am still shocked.

"Everything seemed to happen in slow motion.

"I remember, he had a vicious look in his eyes.

"He raised the bottle and hit me across my head, I was stunned and fell to the floor.

"I was screaming for my colleague to help. He continued to bash the bottle across my back. I thought he was going to kill me."

The pilot radioed police in Malaga and asked them to arrest the passenger on arrival.

Four passengers leapt on Mr Handy as Ms Weir staggered down the steps and collapsed on the Tarmac at Malaga Airport.

Despite her ordeal, Ms Weir vowed to carry on working as an air stewardess.

"I need some time off work. I love my job and I'm not going to let this man intimidate me."

BBC Madrid Correspondent Daniel Schweimler: "Fiona Weir needed 18 stitches to her back and arms"
Airtours was joined by Virgin Atlantic in banning Mr Handy for life from travelling on any of their flights.

Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Atlantic says he wants to compile a worldwide database of offenders.

The attack came in the week that rock star Ian Brown was released on bail pending an appeal against his conviction and four-month sentence for using threatening behaviour on a flight.

The 35-year-old former Stone Roses frontman was jailed last week after magistrates in Manchester heard he told an air stewardess he would chop her hands off and banged on the flight deck door as the pilot brought the plane into land.

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