Pilot considered diverting plane, court told

A HOSPITAL worker's drunken air-rage forced the captain to consider diverting the plane.

Cheryl Sweeney's alcohol-fuelled antics on the flight from Majorca to Blackpool upset the cabin crew and the 130 passengers on board, a court heard.

The captain of the Boeing 737 told Sweeney he would divert to Bordeaux in France and she would have to pay the cost if she did not control her behaviour.

She replied: "I don't care, I have 12 houses."

Police, who met the plane when it landed in the resort – after the captain radioed ahead – found Sweeney in a comatose-type condition, lying across three seats, with a bottle of Tia Maria between her feet.

The mother-of-one, a hospital maintenance worker, of Avenham Grove in North Shore, pleaded guilty to an offence under the Civil Aviation Act of being drunk on an aircraft.

She also admitted racially aggravated abusive behaviour towards a police officer.

Sweeney, 28, was bailed to December 23 for pre-sentence reports by Blackpool magistrates.

Presiding magistrate, Stephen Beilby, warned her she could face jail because the offence on the aircraft was so serious.

Alison Quanbrough, prosecuting, said cabin crew member Gemma Baker came to the flight deck and told the captain, Anthony Quigley, a woman passenger was drunk, causing a disturbance and being abusive.

The captain said Ms Baker, a very experienced crew member, was crying and upset.

The court heard Capt Quigley believed the incident could escalate out of control and he decided to go and speak to Sweeney.

He asked her to moderate her behaviour and not drink any more alcohol.

The incident happened on a flight from Palma Airport to Blackpool, on September 24, at about 9.30pm.

The prosecution said Sweeney replied "What if I don't?" and the captain said he would have to divert the flight. She retorted "go on and do it" before following him to the flight deck door.

The captain alerted police at Blackpool. Officers boarded the plane at the resort's airport and found her in a comatose-type state.

She had vomited on the seats and carpet around her.

As she was being taken to the police station Sweeney was abusive about officers' children and made a race-hate remark to one of them.

Trevor Colebourne, defending, said his client had gone to Majorca for a holiday with her partner, but he assaulted her and told her to leave the island.

She was so upset she drank to drown her sorrows.

Mr Colebourne added: "When she got the full facts of what happened she was absolutely mortified. She apologises to the passengers, cabin crew and the pilot."