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Monday, November 16, 1998 Published at 21:08 GMT


UK

Father and son jailed for 'air rage' attack

The captain diverted the Malta-bound plane to Milan

A father and son who got drunk and fought with passengers on an Air 2000 flight from Birmingham to Malta have been sent to prison.


Colin Pemberton reports on the latest case of air rage
Anthony Psaila, a 61-year-old Maltese national, drank whisky and three cans of strong beer because he was petrified of flying, Warwick Crown Court heard.

Psaila and his son Roy, 27, were jailed for 12 months for their part in the fracas on board the Boeing 757 flight on 7 April this year.

The Psailas, from Redditch, Worcestershire, admitted affray and the older man admitted an additional offence of being drunk on an aircraft.

This is the latest in a series of "air rage" offences to have hit the headlines. Some airlines are introducing measures to stop unruly passengers from travelling with them in an attempt to combat the problem.

'Disgraceful incident'

The plane's captain, Hugo Vonwiller, was forced to divert the packed passenger plane to Milan because of the trouble.

Capt Vonwiller had earlier been forced to lock himself in his cabin after Mr Psaila senior told air stewardesses he wanted to tell the pilot he loved him.

One terrified female passenger was trapped in the lavatory as the Psailas brawled with other passengers in the aisle.

Judge Richard Cole said: "The offence was a most unpleasant and disgraceful incident which caused many people on that aeroplane to be frightened.

He added: "Furthermore the violence caused injuries to other people who were hoping to enjoy their flight and get to their destination without difficulty."

Simon Ward, prosecuting, said two passengers who tried to restrain Mr Psaila senior needed hospital treatment.

The trouble started shortly after the plane took off from Birmingham.

Mr Psaila senior was spotted drinking a can of alcohol he had brought with him and when asked to stop by the head stewardess he refused and handed her an empty can.

Shortly afterwards he was seen to be behaving in a "peculiar way".

Mr Ward said he stood up and demanded to see the pilot, saying "I want to see the captain, I love him".

He then started lashing out at the food trolleys and walls of the aircraft.

Assaulted

Prison officer Raymond Perks was assaulted when she went to restrain the defendant.

Mr Ward said: "Mr Perks took hold of Anthony Psaila's arm which he took as a threatening gesture. He was mistaken."

Mr Psaila head-butted Mr Perks in the face and they started fighting.

Another passenger, Robert Bayliss got up to help Mr Perks but was knocked to the ground by Roy Psaila, who got up to help his father.

While this was going on Mrs Bayliss was trying to get out of the lavatory, but staff warned her to stay inside because of the trouble.

Captain Vonwiller decided to redirect the plane to Milan, where father and son were arrested.

The Psailas later told officers in England they were afraid of flying and drank to calm their nerves.

Mr Perks was treated in hospital after his tooth was knocked out and Mr Bayliss suffered a cut to his face.

Both the Psailas were given 12 month prison sentences with six months suspended.



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