Helen Butcher was branded the ‘worst passenger ever’ as she was jailed
A middle-aged mother was branded the ‘worst airline passenger ever’ as she was jailed over a drunken rampage on board a Thompson Airways aircraft.
Helen Butcher, 51, was travelling to the Greek island of Kos with her daughter Victoria when she launched her air-rage attack on cabin crew and passengers – which saw her swear so loudly children covered their ears whilst other passengers were reduced to tears and begged staff to make her behave.
In a statement Shay Kelly one of the cabin crew: ‘In 20 years experience on board aircraft, this person was the worst passenger I have ever dealt with.
‘She was causing concern to passengers with children who were sitting within her vicinity and was angry, loud and abusive.’
One crew member handed a warning note from the pilot to Butcher only for her to grab hold of his face and repeatedly swear at him.
Butcher was arrested by Greek police when the plane touched down June last year and officers found arguing with her daughter as they boarded the jet.
Helen Butcher drank wine, vodka and gin and was abusive to aircraft passengers. Pictured a line of Thompson Airways aircraft at Manchester Airport
A litre bottle of spirit was also found inside her bag.
At Manchester Crown Court, Butcher, of Ulverston Cumbria was jailed for 21 weeks after she admitted two counts of assault by beating, being intoxicated on an aircraft and using threatening behaviour.
Butcher arrived at Manchester Airport with daughter Victoria after consuming half a bottle of wine during their car journey.
The court heard she then had two vodkas in the airport lounge and a gin and tonic at the start of the flight.
Prosecutor Amanda Johnson said: ‘The flight was due to depart at 3:50pm but was late due to a previous flight so boarding began later than planned.
‘Miss Butcher was travelling with her daughter, Victoria and they were amongst the last passengers to board. The defendant struggled to find space in the overheard locker for her bag and this resulted in her being rude to passengers on the plane.
‘She then took her seat on the plane and it took off. Cabin crew members Michael Crawford and Tom Briers began on the board drink service and started two rows away from the defendant. Her daughter ordered a coke and she ordered a gin and tonic.
‘But as the cabin crew members moved on to the next row, the defendant punched Mr Crawford in the genital area. He described feeling intense pain to his groin and feeling sick – he was shocked.
Butcher (right) arrived at Manchester Airport with daughter Victoria (left) after consuming half a bottle of wine during their car journey
He said to the defendant that her behaviour was unacceptable but she said that he was obstructing her view of her daughter. The defendant then said that it did not matter because he was ‘gay anyway’.
‘Crew were told to serve no more alcohol to the defendant with a senior crew member, Mr Shay Kelly, describing her as drunk and slurring her words. She repeatedly told him to ‘f*** off’ and he describes her as having no respect for the other passengers on board the flight.
‘When Mr Kelly handed a warning note from the pilot to the defendant she then took hold of his face and repeating swore at him and he took her passport off her. The flight was a busy one and passengers were complaining of being scared and asking staff to do something about her.
‘Police were alerted in Greece and put on standby for when the plane landed.
Throughout the flight crew members could still hear the defendant and her daughter swearing and arguing between themselves and other passengers around them. Just before landing she stood up and had to be told to sit down.
‘Police were present and removed the defendant from the plane. It was then that crew saw she had a litre bottle of spirit inside a bag and thought she must have been drinking that on the flight. It was a distressing incident for all those on board the plane. The start of people’s holidays were ruined as a result of the behaviour of the defendant.’
Butcher punched a steward in the genitals saying: ‘It doesn’t matter you’re gay anyway’
In mitigation defence lawyer Raquel Simpson said her client and alcohol issues but admitted: ‘Miss Butcher accepts that her behaviour was appalling and she apologises through me to the Thomson crew and to the passengers who were affected and understands that her behaviour was so bad that it passes the custodial threshold.
‘Her father died of pancreatic cancer and she resorted to alcohol to coping within that period. However there was no evidence that the litre bottle of spirit was opened and I am specifically instructed that she had not consumed from the bottle.
Sentencing Judge David Stockdale QC told Butcher: ‘You were intoxicated before you boarded the aircraft and a report says that you drank half a bottle of wine in the car on the way to the airport, two vodkas at the airport and a gin and tonic on board the aircraft.
‘As the air steward moved his trolley on down the gangway you punched him to the genitals and made offensive remarks to him telling him that he was in your way. You used offensive language to him and used homophobic language to him. After he managed to gain composure he told you that your behaviour was unacceptable but your abusive behaviour continued and worsened during the flight.
‘The location of these offences was on board a flight while the aircraft was in the air, children were present and you failed to respond to warnings. It is clear to me that you have had a difficult early life, you have had difficulties in your past relationships but you have failed to address your drinking problem.
‘You chose to take a holiday abroad which would involve flying when you knew your weaknesses. It is behaviour such as yours that threatens people’s safety on an aircraft. The distress caused by drunken behaviour on a flight is all too obvious. That distress is intensified if cabin crew are assaulted. All those on board were put at risk.’