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Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 19:49 GMT 20:49 UK
'Air rage' group deny charges
Angela O'Driscoll, Josephine Cooper and Elizabeth O'Driscoll
Three women charged with being drunk on a plane
Passengers on a packed Jamaica-bound jet diverted over an alleged air rage incident cheered and clapped as FBI agents boarded the plane, a court was shown on Wednesday.

The Air Tours Flight from Gatwick to Montego Bay on January 31 last year diverted to Norfolk International Airport in Virginia, USA, following an incident between two passengers.

The jury at Hove Crown Court was shown a video of the aircraft landing filmed by a passenger at the time.

Francis Coyle, 40, and Patrick Connors, 36, deny affray and endangering an aircraft.

Patrick Connors
Patrick Connors denies endangering the aircraft

Elizabeth O'Driscoll, 34, Angela O'Driscoll, 39, and Josephine Cooper, 19, deny being drunk on a plane.

All five are from a caravan park in Lewisham, south east London.

Cabin supervisor Tracey Reeves, 28, told the court she and the captain decided to divert after one of a group of 12 passengers clashed with a Jamaican man at the rear of the Boeing 767.

Miss Reeves said at least six of the group were the last to board the plane at Gatwick.

"The group were loud but not particularly disruptive,"she said. "They were singing and shouting at each other. The women were louder than the men."

Miss Reeves said at one stage a male member of the group asked her for a can of beer, but she told him it had been decided the group should not be served more alcohol.

The man denied travelling with the group and refused to show his ticket, she said.

"I said I would give him a can but no more."

But he sat back down with the group, she said.

Francis Coyle
Francis Coyle: told to sit down

The court heard that later in the flight Miss Reeves found three men standing in the aisle at the rear, one covered in a liquid, and a woman - later identified as Josephine Cooper - standing on her seat.

She said: "The woman seemed very drunk. She was gesturing, pointing her finger and using bad language. She said: 'I am going to have you'."

Miss Reeves stood between the man covered in liquid, later identified as Connors, and the Jamaican man, and told them to sit down, the court was told.

"The other passengers were very agitated and upset," she said. "I felt it was going to escalate into a fight if we did not do something. After speaking with the Captain we decided it was best to divert."

A passenger at the front of the plane filmed its arrival at Norfolk.

His tape showed several police vehicles waiting close to the runway, and then passengers cheering and applauding as FBI agents boarded the aircraft to lead the defendants away.

One female passenger caught on the video was heard to say: "I cannot wait to get that lot off."

The trial continues.

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