Ryanair steward who downed alcohol while working on flight tells court: 'I'm not a criminal'
A Ryanair steward who drank alcohol while working on board a flight has told a court: "I am not a criminal."
Sam Thompson, 26, drank whiskey from the aircraft’s drinks trolley and downed a small bottle of wine while on duty during a flight from Rzeszow in Poland to Stansted Airport on 18 May.
Last month, Thompson, of Warrenfield Close, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, admitted to performing an aviation function as a member of cabin crew while his ability to do so was impaired by drink.
Thompson was due to be sentenced at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court in Essex this week, but was instead committed for sentencing at Chelmsford Crown Court on 31 August.
His unconditional bail was extended on Wednesday morning and was told he must be at court for sentencing and not commit further offences in the meantime.
Thompson, wearing a white shirt, dark trousers and brown shoes, stood and said: “I am not a criminal, sir.”
Police were called at around 6.10pm on 18 May after a witness reported seeing a member of cabin crew drinking while working on a flight.
They said they saw Thompson drink Jack Daniels from the trolley before taking a small bottle of wine from his pocket and “necking the whole bottle”.
Nishma Khan, prosecuting, told Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court that the witness first saw Thompson drink Jack Daniels, before they “proceeded to film the member of staff”.
Police took a breath test from Thompson at Stansted Airport, with a reading of 50mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, before he gave a lower reading of 39mcg at Harlow police station.
The legal limit for aviation personnel, set by the UK Aviation Act, is 9mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath, which is lower than the legal limit for driving of 35mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath.
Prosecutor Ashley Petchey outlined that under section 95 of the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, the offence could lead to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, a fine or both; or on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.
As magistrates can only issue sentences of up to 12 months’ imprisonment for a single offence, they agreed to commit the matter to Crown court.
Michael Carroll, for Thompson, said the defendant and alcohol are “not the best of friends”.
Carroll said it was a “great pity” the case could not conclude today as planned, but said he has “glowing references” to show the crown court judge.
“We would like Mr Thompson to gain help,” chairman of the bench Stuart Cranmer said.
“Clearly there will be a punishment element to it but hopefully you will get help.”
It was previously reported that Thompson was sacked by Ryanair after a video showing him drinking a small bottle of wine and shot of whiskey on the flight went viral.