Construction boss Michael Ward (pictured outside court today), 33, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, was at Manchester Crown Court today jailed for two years after he admitted to being drunk on an aircraft and affray
A drunken bridegroom and his stag party caused ‘eight hours of pure hell’ on a flight to Las Vegas – wreaking havoc by fighting, swearing, and doing press-ups in the aisle, a court heard today.
Construction boss Michael Ward, 33, and three of his seven strong group got drunk on rum and Grey Goose vodka before bringing misery to the 8am Thomas Cook flight on March 24, 2018 – with one shouting: ‘I’ve got £300 of alcohol here.’
Today, Ward and two others were jailed for two years at Manchester Crown Court for being caught drunk on an aircraft and affray. A third was jailed for 19 months after admitting being drunk on an aircraft and a public order offence.
The court heard that during the 5,000 mile journey from Manchester Airport, cabin crew had to confiscate five litres of alcohol from the Britons when they became rowdy and sweary towards fellow passengers as the plane cruised at 30,000 feet.
One of the stag party began performing drunken press up in the aisle while shouting ‘boom’, while another deliberately sought to wreak revenge on a stewardess after she refused to serve him alcohol.
He sat opposite the stewardess and said: ‘I’m going to ruin your time like you’ve ruined ours’. Two of the men also tried to lift the skirt of one female member of cabin crew.
The pilot of MT2924 eventually had to make an unscheduled stop at the Canadian province of Winipegg 1,600 miles away from Las Vegas so they could eject the unruly group.
The aircraft had to dump 10,000kg of fuel as a result and the remainder of 316 passengers on board including 12 children had to wait almost three hours before the plane took off again to complete its journey.
The airline were left with a bill of £29,182 – including the cost of paying for return flights back to the UK for five of the group.
Father of one Daniel Howarth (left outside court today), 35, also from Oldham, was jailed for 19 months after he admitted being drunk on an aircraft and a public order offence. Scott Capper (right outside court today) was jailed for two years after he admitted being drunk on an aircraft and affray
Ward (pictured) was among two men who tried to lift the skirt of a stewardess. He and another also threw water at each other during the horror flight
In a statement one passenger, Francis Dwyer, said: ‘They were screaming and shouting and one of them called a stewardess a ‘scouse b****’ when she refused to serve them alcohol.
‘I could see males behind us fighting and punching each other whilst one was doing push ups in the aisle. It was eight hours of pure hell.’
At Manchester Crown Court, father of two Ward, and guests Scott Capper, 32, a businessman and father of three and Craig Hopwood, 35, a carpet fitter and father of two and all from Oldham, were each jailed for two years after they admitted being drunk on an aircraft and affray.
Father of one Daniel Howarth, 35, also from Oldham, was jailed for 19 months after he admitted being drunk on an aircraft and a public order offence.
Prosecutor David Lees said: ‘The defendants were all part of a stag party and were under the influence of alcohol from the start of the flight.
‘They continued to drink their own alcohol during the flight despite being told not to do so.
Hopwood (pictured outside Manchester Crown Court today), 35, a carpet fitter and father of two was jailed for two years after he admitted being drunk on an aircraft and affray
‘At the start of this flight the cabin manager had even made an announcement that it was illegal to be drunk on the Las Vegas flight due to previous issues with stag parties.
‘A number of bottles of spirits were confiscated from them and the group were rowdy offensive and fighting amongst themselves.’
The court heard a stewardess had speak to the group three times before take off and a passenger who tried to joke with them about their behaviour was told: ‘f*** off you t**’ before having his chair kicked.’
The prosecutor added: ‘Once the plane set off they got louder and louder and it became unbearable. When they were refused drinks then were shouting screaming and Mr Howarth went into the aisle and did press ups shouting ‘boom.’
‘Hopwood and Howarth started fighting each other and one punched the other on the arm. After being told the flight would be diverted one said: “Let’s cause more trouble.”
‘One woman on the flight with with her husband said the stag group had been loud in the queue when they got on board and she could see they had been drinking.
‘They were filling up bottles and staff refused to serve them with one of the stewardesses confiscating drink. Their behaviour got worse and they were shouting appalling language across the plane.
‘Ward was the worst behaved and pulled down the shorts of Hopwood who then pulled down his own pants. This was visible to everyone and he was smoking an e-cigarette which was confiscated.
‘Ward and Hopwood even tried to lift the skirt of a stewardess and were throwing water at each other.’
Stag Michael Ward (second from right) was travelling to Las Vegas from Manchester with his friends Scott Capper (second from left), Craig Hopwood (left), and Daniel Howarth (right), on a Thomas Cook flight with more than 300 other passengers when the incident took place. They are pictured together at a previous hearing
The pilot of MT2924 eventually had to make an unscheduled stop at the Canadian province of Winipegg 1,600 miles away from Las Vegas so they could eject the unruly group. Two of the group, believed to be Capper and Howarth, are led off the flight
Ward (left) and Hopwood (right) are led off the flight after it was forced to land in the Canadian province of Winipegg as a result of their unruly behaviour
Stewardess Chloe Chaloner said in a statement: ‘I saw fighting between the group and the throwing of water.
‘They were mithering for drinks before take off and and when they were refused they caused trouble blocking the trolly as we went past.
‘I confiscated five litres of alcohol and on my break one of them got up and sat opposite me staring constantly and saying: ‘I’m going to ruin your time like you’ve ruined ours.’
‘I found them intimidating and aggressive. Whenever one fell asleep the others would punch him hard and they would start fighting each other. When told we were landing one said they had a bomb in the bag.’
The Britons were arrested when they arrived back in the UK.
In interview Ward denied drinking on the aircraft and claimed not to recall bad language or fighting.
Hopwood denies exposing himself and claimed one stewardess had told Ward: ‘Who would marry you?’
Despite being warned, Ward (left and right) and the other men continued with their disruptive and intimidating behaviour – fighting each other, throwing water bottles across the cabin, having water fights and wetting many passengers around them
But Judge Hilary Manley told all four men: ‘You caused your fellow passengers a great deal of upheaval and stress with some of them missing connecting flights.
‘It is ironic you were flown home with tickets paid for by Thomas Cook and it may want to look at recouping some of the losses they incurred through the civil courts as a result of this shameful incident.
‘Passengers describe a deeply distressing incident and one described it as ‘eight hours of pure hell.’ One described seeing your boorish behaviour in the restaurant of the departure lounge and was dismayed to realise you would be getting her flight.
‘You were drunk before boarding the plane and none of you were in a fit state to be on an airplane.
‘You did exactly as you wanted and you interrupted the safety demonstration with your drunken behaviour – drinking rum, vodka and the like that you had bought from duty free. I have seen images of the bottles you drank from and there was little left.’
The judge also criticised the men for creating a ‘threatening and wholly unsafe situation’, saying they were ‘insulting to the crew’.
At Manchester Crown Court, Daniel Howarth (left), 35, from Oldham, was jailed for 19 months after he admitted being drunk on an aircraft and a public order offence. Scott Capper (right), 32, a businessman and father of three was jailed for two years after he admitted being drunk on an aircraft and affray
Craig Hopwood (left), 35, a carpet fitter and father of two and Ward (right) – the bridegroom – were both jailed for two years after they admitted being drunk on an aircraft and affray
She continued: ‘An experienced crew member said it was the worst behaviour she’s seen in more than 20 years of working. A single unruly drunk can be contained but this is no such case here.
‘You ignored all the warnings given to you and you caused fear to passengers and impacted the safety of the aircraft.
‘You were still drinking and being abusive towards fellow passengers even as the plane was landing in Winnipeg. This is such a serious example of drunkenness on an aircraft.
‘You are all family men with people relying on you but the experience of a drunken group in the confined space of an aircraft for a long haul flight is a truly terrifying one. There needs to be a deterrent sentence to such behaviour.’
Detective Constable Brad Howarth, of Greater Manchester Police’s airport team, labelled the actions of the four men were ‘appalling’ after their conviction today
He said: ‘Their behaviour was intimidating and frightening, for both the passengers unfortunate enough to be sat near them, as well as the crew who made every possible attempt to reason with them as the flight continued.
‘However, the group’s aggressive actions had no bounds, showing absolutely no consideration for the many children and families on board that had to endure their grossly unacceptable and offensive language and behaviour.
‘Today, the drunken and loutish behaviour of these four men has resulted in a jail sentence; and I hope that this sends a clear message.’