Drunken grandmother sends NZ-bound flight back to Australia

File photo / NZPA
File photo / NZPA

A drunken grandmother caused a New Zealand-bound flight to turn back to Melbourne after verbally abusing passengers and punching a man in the face.

Frances Lillian Macaskill, 58, was heavily intoxicated when she began punching seats and yelling profanities at passengers and crew on board the Qantas flight that left Melbourne Airport on Saturday morning, Melbourne Magistrates Court heard on Monday.

She then punched a male passenger in the face with a closed fist, causing a 6cm abrasion to the right side of his face which broke the skin and caused heavy bleeding, said commonwealth prosecutor Lauren Gurry.

Macaskill pleaded guilty to assaulting the passenger and behaving in an offensive and disorderly manner on board the Wellington-bound flight.

Ms Gurry said the incident inconvenienced Qantas and the passengers, while costing the airline $19,760.

According to the prosecution summary, Macaskill was seen drinking duty-free alcohol bought from the airport and ignored repeated requests to calm down.

"The accused was restrained by the air crew with the assistance of the victim, by being placed in flexi cuffs and moved to an empty seat at the rear of the aircraft," Ms Gurry said.

"The accused then repeatedly headbutted the seat in front of her, which resulted in the crew having to restrain the accused further, by attaching three child seatbelts together and strapping the accused across the shoulders to the seat, to prevent further injury to herself."

The NZ national, who lives in Western Australia, was travelling to Wellington to spend two months with her children, her lawyer Nadia Morales told Magistrate Luisa Bazzani.

She said Macaskill had no prior convictions and now recognised she had a drinking problem.

"She completely understands the significance and seriousness of this event," Ms Morales said.

"She is shocked and appalled because she has no recollection of the incident whatsoever.

"She was extremely intoxicated."

Macaskill wanted the matter resolved quickly because she has no family in Victoria and was upset and afraid, her lawyer said.

Ms Bazzani said the victim needed to be given the opportunity to submit a victim impact statement before she considered what sentence to impose on Macaskill.

"I will not be hurried into reaching a decision for the convenience of the accused," she said.

Macaskill's bail was extended to Tuesday when the matter will return to court.

- AAP

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