[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 January 2006, 15:04 GMT
Diplomat cleared over 'air rage'
Colonel Peter Roberts
Colonel Peter Roberts says he suffered visions after the tsunami
A British diplomat accused of threatening to kill a plane's cabin crew and passengers has been cleared of being drunk on an aircraft.

Colonel Peter Roberts MBE, the former British defence attache in Thailand, was cleared at Isleworth Crown Court.

The 51-year-old, of Passfield, Hampshire, had denied the charge.

It was claimed during the six-day trial that the father-of-three had gone on a drunken rampage in business class on a flight from Abu Dhabi to Heathrow.

Prescribed drug

Col Roberts eventually had to have his hands and feet bound with plastic ties to subdue him during the flight on 17 February.

He had been heavily involved in trying to identify British victims of the tsunami in Thailand and was on his way back to London to give a briefing on the disaster to colleagues in the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office.

The former army helicopter pilot told the jury he had been suffering from stress following the tsunami and that he had accidentally taken too much of the prescribed drug Seroxat which he was taking for depression.

The officer told the jury he had no memory of his behaviour on the plane.

After the not guilty verdict, Col Roberts' defence made an application for costs which was refused by Judge Usha Karu.

'Chronic stress'

The judge said: "I took a view when I heard the evidence that the defendant had consumed alcohol to an extent which was excessive and having done so knowing he was also on antidepressants he brought the matter on himself and I am not minded to allow the application for defence costs."

His defence costs are expected to run into thousands of pounds.

The colonel 's solicitor, Look Chih Wang, issued a statement on his behalf, saying: "His behaviour was due to a temporary abnormality of function caused by long-term chronic stress, tsunami-related post-traumatic stress, sleep deprivation and a combination of the antidepressant Seroxat and alcohol.

"Col Roberts had been advised by his doctor that he could drink in moderation whilst taking Seroxat and has maintained his innocence throughout these proceedings.

"Although Col Roberts has been acquitted he nevertheless wishes to apologise to all those who were affected by his behaviour and offended by his remarks."

Air-rage diplomat 'had day-mares'
19 Jan 06 |  Hampshire
Officer 'threatened to kill crew'
18 Jan 06 |  Hampshire
Diplomat charged over plane row
03 Mar 05 |  London

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific