A former New Zealand man has been convicted of racially aggravated abuse after demanding he be served by a "white girl" on a British Airways flight.

Peter Nelson, 46, launched into a tirade of abuse after being woken up by flight attendant Sima Patel-Pryke on the 11-hour flight from Heathrow to Rio de Janeiro.

UK media reported the father-of-three said: "You Asians think you are better than us, I don't want to be served by you lot, I've paid your wages for the last 20 years."

Nelson was said to have reduced the stewardess to tears after he "shouted very loudly" at her and another cabin crew member, British media reported.


His tirade had "targeted" Patel-Pryke before the cabin crew got a restraining kit ready to use on him, and he was threatened with arrest.

Prosecutor Michael Tanney said: "Nelson subsequently demanded services in the future only from the white member of the crew."

In Isleworth Crown Court on Friday, a jury delivered a unanimous guilty verdict to one count of racially aggravated abuse on the flight on June 2 last year.

Nelson was fined $3823, with $955 compensation to his victim and $6690 costs to the prosecution.

Judge Edward Connell said: "You plainly displayed a contemptuous attitude towards the staff from the outset, when Pryke, simply doing her job, came to wake you in order to take your food order.

"You took immediate offence at her having the audacity in your view to wake you up.

"It seems that that was the beginnings of what turned out to be on your part an opportunity for you to get very upset without any justification at all.

"That manifested itself in the most unpleasant of ways.


"It was thoroughly unpleasant period of conduct by you; such was your conduct that members of staff were called to deal with you and they had cause to contact the pilot.

"It's quite plain, albeit this wasn't the most serious case the court hears, that it had an impact on Pryke who we heard in evidence was upset and ended up in tears because of your behaviour.

"It was completely unacceptable and I'm entirely satisfied that it was contributed by that you had drunk a significant amount of alcohol during the course of that flight.

"I accept this conviction will have profound ramifications for you and your employability so I'm just persuaded that this can be dealt with a financial penalty."

Nelson went to university in New Zealand before moving to the UK.

The married father-of-three, lives in a $2.2 million five-bedroom house in Ascot, Berks, and earned $2900 a week.

The court heard Nelson subsequently lost job as an IT consultant at GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical company and was now considering moving his wife and three children back to New Zealand after 20 years in the UK.

Defence lawyer Lauren Sales said Nelson's wife suffered from stress because of the allegation and was treated by paramedics in an ambulance at the court after seeing national press reports of the case.

"He has lost his job. He was the breadwinner of the family. It is life-changing for Nelson, the two of them have taken the decision to take their children out of their school because it's an international school," she said.

"They feel they cannot go to the gates of the school and stand in the playground."