An Irish international human rights lawyer, who was caught on camera making abusive rants at Air India crew after she was refused alcohol on a flight from Mumbai to London, has been jailed for six months in the UK.
Simone Burns was described as "drunk and obnoxious" during a hearing at Isleworth Crown Court in London on Thursday, where it emerged that she also spat at a flight attendant during her foul-mouthed racist tirade after she was refused alcohol on the flight in November last year.
"The experience of a drunk and irrational person in the confines of an aircraft is frightening, not least on a long-haul flight, and poses a potential risk to safety," said Judge Nicholas Wood, as he sentenced the 50-year-old to six months in prison for being drunk on an aircraft and two months for assault, sentences to run concurrently.
"You were drunk and obnoxious almost from the beginning to the end. You were abusive, contemptuous and confrontational and used appalling language," he said.
Simone Burns, born in Northern Ireland and living in Hove in England, was also ordered to pay 300 pounds compensation to the person she assaulted, with the judge saying that "spitting straight into a crew member's face at close range is a particularly insulting and upsetting act."
The court heard how the lawyer drank three bottles of wine on the long-haul flight before calling the cabin crew "Indian money-grabbing c***s" as she was denied a fourth bottle of red wine for being too drunk.
"I'm a f*****g international lawyer," she told attendants during her tirade before retreating to the toilets to try and smoke. She was given a series of warnings before being arrested on landing in London.
“I am working for all your people. The f*****g Rohingyas, the f*****g people of all Asia, for you, an international criminal lawyer. Don’t get any money for it. But you can’t even give me a f*****g glass of wine, is that correct? when she was denied more on an Air India flight from Mumbai to London in November.
A member of the Air India cabin crew described her conduct as unlike anything he had seen during his 34-year aviation career.
The judge at Isleworth Crown Court said he was satisfied the offence was racially aggravated and the language Burns used would have been extremely upsetting for the airline staff.
Judge Nicholas Wood, sentencing at Isleworth Crown Court, told Burns: “The experience of a drunk and irrational person in the confines of an aircraft is frightening, not least on a long-haul flight and poses a potential risk to safety".
The judge said: “Such offences are often committed by people of impeccable character. Although the aircraft was not at risk by Burns’s behaviour, the judge said, “For the luckless and unfortunate passengers and crew there is no escape at 30,000ft.”
He added: “Spitting straight into a crew member’s face at close range is a particularly insulting and upsetting act.”
The sentences are to be served concurrently after she previously pleaded guilty to the charges.
Burns was also ordered to pay £300 compensation to the crew member who was assaulted.
The nine-hour flight took off at 4.10am as Burns sat in business class with 17 other passengers. After breakfast was served Burns was asking for alcohol and being “very obnoxious”, the court said.