Nazi-saluting passenger who tried to grab Easyjet pilot by throat fails to avoid jail

Paul Anthony Burgoyne
Paul Anthony Burgoyne

A Nazi saluting bully who was shouting and swearing at cabin crew and tried to grab an airline pilot by the throat was jailed for three months on Monday.

Dismissing the appeal by 51-year-old Paul Anthony Burgoyne, Judge Melody McReynolds said given his “bullying behaviour” on the EasyJet flight, “a deterrent sentence is entirely appropriate”.

The judge told Antrim County Court she had “no hesitation in affirming every aspect of the order of the learned district judge” who had originally jailed Burgoyne for three months last June.

Burgoyne, originally from Northern Ireland but now living at Temple Close, Shepshed in Loughborough, pleaded guilty to nine offences arising from the incident on February 11 including four counts of common assault, one of which related to the captain of the flight, damaging the captain’s £600 wrist watch, using disorderly behaviour at Belfast International Airport, behaving in an abusive, insulting or threatening manner towards cabin crew and recklessly endangering the safety of an aircraft.

The court heard that Burgoyne was high on a cocktail of alcohol and cocaine when he boarded the flight to Birmingham.

A prosecuting lawyer told the court that when a member of the cabin crew asked Burgoyne to raise the window blind for take off, he gave her a “Nazi salute” and told her “alright Mein Fuhrer”.

“He was told that he would be removed if there were further issues but he continued to be aggressive and swearing,” said the lawyer, adding that having been spoken to by the aircraft captain, Burgoyne was deemed unfit to travel.

Burgoyne continued to be aggressive, shouting and swearing at staff, causing both the captain and a female member of the cabin crew to believe he was going to punch them.

The court heard that at one stage, Burgoyne tried to “grab the captain by the throat but grabbed him by the shirt collar” which resulted in a struggle during which the pilot’s £600 watch was broken.

Ejected from the plane, which was still attached to the tug vehicle, Burgoyne kicked the vehicle and then tried to get in it, grabbing the joystick and steering wheel before kicking a member of the ground crew who tried to intervene.

Arrested and interviewed, Burgoyne accepted it was him in the CCTV footage but denied that he assaulted anyone.

As well as the jail sentence, District Judge Nigel Broderick fined Burgoyne £500 and ordered him to pay £600 to the plane’s captain.

In court defence barrister Neil Moore revealed the fine had already been paid and was in keeping with his “expressions of remorse and regret”.

The lawyer told the court Burgoyne had come back to the Province for a family meeting which unfortunately had “become toxic” and coupled with issues dating back to childhood, “this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Since being freed on bail pending Monday’s appeal, the court heard Burgoyne had been undergoing counselling to deal with this issues.

Submitting that Burgoyne could be dealt with by a less serious sentence than imprisonment, Mr Moore argued his case suffered from other air rage cases in that his offences were committed “on the tarmac rather than whilst in the air.”

Jailing Burgoyne in the Magistrates Court three months ago, Judge Broderick warned “there must be an element of deterrence” and that warning was repeated by Judge McReynolds.

She told Burgoyne his offences would have been “quite terrifying” for his fellow passengers and warned: “He behaves in a bullying manner to the staff and a deterrent sentence is entirely appropriate”.