Drunk Kiwi banned from Qantas flights for five years

By Jimmy Ellingham

Brendan Hetherington won't be able to board another Qantas plane for five years. Photo / Getty Images
Brendan Hetherington won't be able to board another Qantas plane for five years. Photo / Getty Images

Brendan Hetherington won't be able to board another Qantas plane for five years after his abusive behaviour.

A Wellington man's boozy antics on a trans-Tasman flight have seen him slapped with a five-year ban from Qantas flights.

Brendan Mathew Hetherington boarded a flight on the airline in Sydney in September, bound for Wellington.

It was chock-full with holiday makers, including children, business people and other travellers.

A court summary says Hetherington "became grossly intoxicated".

When a warning light appeared for passengers to return to their normal seats, Hetherington didn't follow the advice and became "disruptive" as crew asked him to do so.

"He refused to return to his assigned seat and began yelling abuse at cabin crew and fellow passengers."

Back in his seat, Hetherington's loud, foul-mouthed tirade continued and the whole plane could hear him.

The Qantas crew politely asked him to calm down, but Hetherington ignored them, so the flight captain ordered him to be restrained.

"Cabin crew, assisted by willing passengers, restrained the intoxicated defendant by placing hand cuffs on," the summary says.

"He remained in his seat, overseen by crew and assisting passengers. He continued to verbally abuse one of the passengers caring for him throughout the trip."

Back in Wellington, police were waiting for Hetherington at the airport and took him into custody.

He told them he couldn't remember what happened.

"Once sober, he was very apologetic."

In the Wellington District Court today, Hetherington admitted a charge of offensive behavior. He was sentenced to nine months' supervision, including alcohol and drug counselling if ordered to.

A charge laid under the Civil Aviation Act was dropped, as the Civil Aviation Authority had already fined Hetherington $1100.

He'd also been banned from Qantas flights for five years, the court heard.

"When someone is that far above the ground with that number of people on board it's very difficult and dangerous to be grossly intoxicated on board and difficult for staff to handle," Judge Barbara Morris said.

"I'm sure that the sober you is remorseful for what occurred," the judge told Hetherington.

Defence lawyer John Miller said Hetherington had been on medication, that doesn't mix with alcohol, for depression and had been through a "traumatic" family separation.

Considering the fine and the Qantas ban, he'd already been "well and truly punished".

Outside court, Hetherington said he was sorry and remorseful for what happened.

"It was just a really stupid mistake."

- NZ Herald

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