Plane made emergency landing when drunk passenger started eating his mobile
A drunken passenger who caused a plane to be diverted after attempting to eat his mobile when a woman rejected his advances, is facing time behind bars.
Matthew Flaherty, 44, was on an easyJet flight from Manchester Airport to Keflavik, Iceland, when he pulled a bottle of gin from his bag and began swigging it straight. He started flirting with a female passenger but after she ignored him, he told her to ‘f* off’ and screamed he was ‘going to kill her family’ on January 28, last year.
Cabin crew members urged him to calm down and go back to his seat but Flaherty turned on them shouting death threats and struggled with a man who attempted to retrieve his bag from an overhead locker.
EasyJet staff alerted the pilot to the escalating incident, who took the precaution of locking the cockpit door and diverting the plane to Edinburgh Airport, ruining the holidays of 142 passengers on board.
As the flight began its descent, he started pulling apart his mobile phone and chewed the electrical parts.
The phone’s battery fell onto a seat and began to smoke causing one steward to rush over and place the device into a glass of water.
After landing, Flaherty, from Middlewich, Cheshire, was taken to a police station where he continued his drunken outburst and racially abused an officer by repeatedly calling him a ‘n**r’ and threatened to kill his family.
Flaherty appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday where he pleaded guilty to charges including putting the safety of a flight in danger at Edinburgh Airport.
Air crew staff were said to be ‘quite shaken’ by Flaherty’s behaviour and the court heard none of the cabin staff had ‘dealt with anything as extreme before’.
The crew manager said she was ‘very intimidated’ and was ‘worried he would physically harm her’ when she tried to calm him down, as he shouted: ‘I am going to kill you if you do not shut up’.
Fiscal depute Jade Doidge said: ‘The accused took his mobile phone out and began to destroy it with his bare hands cutting himself in the process.
‘He was seen putting parts of it into his mouth and chew them up. The battery was discarded onto a seat and as a result it began to heat up and began smouldering.’
Flaherty pleaded guilty to conducting himself in a disorderly manner by shouting, swearing, uttering threats and failing to comply with cabin crew instructions.
He also admitted to acting in a manner likely to endanger the aircraft, along with a third charge of shouting, swearing, uttering threats of violence and racial remarks at Livingston police station.
Flaherty is due to be sentenced on March 9.