A drunk airline passenger fought with police and called them ‘Nazis’ as she was arrested to stop her running across the tarmac at Manchester airport to get her flight.
Jessica Chance had been thrown off the TUI flight to Rhodes when staff noticed she was visibly drunk, loud and rowdy, after downing double vodkas and lager in the departure lounge.
The procurement administrator who worked for an environment company had been flying to the Greek island of Santorini with her sister on September 15, last year, but ended up in handcuffs and lost her job as a result of the incident.
The 37-year-old claimed she drank too much while self-medicating because her GP had refused to prescribe anti-anxiety tablets before the flight and she hadn’t found any tablets in Boots which might help calm her nerves.
Chance, who faced being sent to prison for two years, was sentenced to four weeks in prison suspended for 12 months on Monday after Manchester Crown Court heard she is ‘usually… medicated for fear of flying’ and that ‘mental health issues’ were a factor in her behaviour.
Jessica Chance (pictured) was ordered off her TUI flight to Rhodes on September 15 last year for being drunk and rowdy
The 37-year-old (pictured) then scuffled with police officers as she tried to get back on board
The court heard that police were called to Terminal 2 at Manchester Airport after Chance, from Crofton, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, attempted to board her TUI flight bound for Rhodes only to be ordered off for being drunk.
Prosecutor Tobias Collins said: ‘Police saw an incident taking place at the bottom of the airstairs in which defendant was trying to get onto the plane and struggling with staff to do so.
‘Staff confirmed the defendant had been told to get off the plane earlier but after getting off the plane she was trying to get back on. She was taken back to the police van and verbally abusive to officers, including calling one a Nazi. She was arrested and cautioned and gave no reply.’
The court heard Chance had since lost her job following the incident. In mitigation defence counsel Ian Metcalfe said: ‘Miss Chance is entirely ashamed of herself for what went on on September 15 of last year.
‘She was flying out to Greece with her sister and had never actually been to Greece before.’
‘When she had flown in the past, the defendant says she would be prescribed medication from her doctor on the basis that flying created in her a heightened sense of fear and anxiety. But on this occasion the GP indicated that he no longer issued prescriptions for that particular cause.
‘Miss Chance therefore assumed that she would be able to pick something up that would pacify her at the airport at Boots, but nothing was available so she resorted to self medicating by drinking too much, too much vodka in fact.
‘It is important to emphasise that there was no immediate safety risk caused or created by her conduct. If she had broken free and ran across the runway that would have created a difficulty – but that didn’t happen.
‘We are also not dealing with the case of behaviour when the plane was in flight and we are not dealing with the sort of case which required the rerouting of the aircraft.’
Chance pictured outside Manchester Crown Court where she was sentenced to four weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months after pleading guilty to being drunk onboard an aircraft
Chance (pictured outside court) lost her job as a procurement administrator for an environment company following the incident
He said Chance had shown ‘genuine remorse’ for her conduct and added: ‘She is a single woman who lives with her father and she has no previous convictions or cautions whatsoever.
‘That in itself confirms that this should be regarded as an entirely isolated incident against her normal character. She is considered a low risk of reoffending and this lady has already suffered a punitive consequence.
‘As soon as she was charged and released by the magistrates, she contacted her employer, her employer of some years, indicating that she had been charged.
‘She was suspended and because the court proceedings were ongoing she was dismissed from her employment.
‘That has presented her with a stark lesson to be learnt. That has been hard for her, particularly over the Christmas period. She has some interviews next month if she’s at liberty to attend them.
‘But she accepts that she will have to inform the prospective employees, not just of this offence, but the way the court has dealt with these matters
‘She knows that she will receive some further punitive element today, which should take account of her loss of a job.’
Chance, who pleaded guilty to being drunk on an aircraft, was also ordered to complete 120 hours of unpaid work and pay £510 in costs.
Sentencing the judge Miss Recorder Jennifer Cleeve told her: ‘You were arrested at Manchester Airport having been removed from an international flight for being loud and rowdy.
‘Passengers had complained about you and for passengers to reach a point where they had to complain about someone, your behaviour must have caused serious concerns.
The court heard that Chance was meant to be travelling to the Greek island of Santorini with her sister
Her lawyer said that Chance suffers from anxiety when flying, but her GP had refused to prescribe medication to help before her trip this time round
‘You were trying to reboard the flight, you were drunk and trying to get back on the plane. You were then handcuffed to stop you running across the live airfield. That is, of course, dangerous.
‘You were abusive to police officers, trying to kick out and calling them Nazis. You told the probation service that you had drunk four double vodkas and some lager to assist with your nerves.
‘You drank an obscene amount of alcohol. This was not just an attempt to take the edge off.’
‘In terms of aggravating features, you caused concerns to other passengers who complained about your behaviour. Officers were concerned that you were going to run across the live airfield.
‘You were aggressive, you kicked out at officers. The health and safety consequences are that your behaviour could have resulted in a real danger to others.
‘In mitigation, you are remorseful and embarrassed about your behaviour and you have lost your own job as a result of having committed this offence which is punishment in itself.
‘Usually, you are medicated for fear of flying. You sought medication on this occasion but you were unsuccessful. To a small extent, mental health factors may have contributed to your behaviour. You do not pose a danger to the public.’