Earlier this week I shared about the mother-daughter duo who were arrested for assaulting a SWISS Air captain over a hand baggage disagreement. A London court just adjudicated the case.
Henrietta Mitaiare, 23, and Mary Roberts, 53, were traveling from Zurich (ZRH) to London (LHR) last May with Mitaiare’s child. Upon boarding, Mitaiare was informed she could not take her baby stroller onboard and would need to check it at the door of the aircraft. Upon landing, she began arguing with the captain and eventually lunged at him, with her mother allegedly joining in the kerfuffle as well. More details here.
Both were arrested for assault and pleaded non-guilty in a London court. Mitaire claimed she merely acted in self-defense after the captain tried to wrestle her phone out of her hand when she began recording the discussion. The captain denied this.
District Judge Deborah Wright found no malfeasance on the part of the captain, finding any contact on his side was “trying to protect himself from a very loud and very angry woman who had refused to leave the plane”.
Roberts did not like the whole proceeding, interrupting at one point to shout in the courtroom:
“Adolf Hitler is ruling England! Mussolini is ruling England!”
Her tirade prompted a rebuke and removal from the courtroom.
That certainly endears sympathy…
Addressing Mitaire after finding her guilty, Judge Wright said:
“You behaved in a way that was completely unacceptable and caused significant injury and the whole thing was caused, in effect, because you could not take your buggy on to the plane with you.
“When you were asked to leave the plane, instead of being sensible and saying ‘I will make my complaint at a later stage’, you escalated matters.”
“The court heard that the assault caused the following flight to be cancelled.
“A significant number of people were inconvenienced and you caused distress to the staff who had to deal with the incident on the day in question.”
Mitaire was given a four-month sentence for assault by beating, though Judge Wright suspended the sentence for one year. She’ll now have to respect a curfew, being home each night between 7:00 PM and 7:00 AM. She was also ordered to pay £2,615, which includes:
- £1,500 court costs
- £115 surcharge
- £1,000 compensation to the SWISS Captain
This must be paid immediately or she will serve three additional months in prison.
Roberts, meanwhile, was acquitted. She claimed she tried to “break up” the flight and did not contribute to it. She was given the benefit of the doubt even though the captain and purser provided testimony she attacked as well.
The monetary damages seem rather low if SWISS was actually forced to cancel the return flight to Zurich on account of the attack. Nevertheless, hopefully the four-month sentence and £2,615 (~$3,390) fine will serve as a deterrent…to attacking a captain over checking a baby stroller.