Ryanair steward who drank alcohol on plane tells court ‘I am not a criminal’

·2-min read

A Ryanair steward who has admitted to drinking alcohol while working on a flight has told a court: “I am not a criminal”.

Sam Thompson, 26, was working on the plane flying from from Poland to Stanstead Airport in Essex on May 18 when a witness saw him drink Jack Daniels from the trolley and later consume a small bottle of wine, Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard.

Last month, Thompson, of Warrenfield Close, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, admitted to performing an aviation function as a member of cabin crew while his ability to do so was impaired by drink.

Thompson was due to be sentenced at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court in Essex on Wednesday but was instead committed for sentencing at Chelmsford Crown Court on August 31.

Prosecutor Ashley Petchey noted Thompson is of “previous good character” but said it was an “unusual case” because there are “no sentencing guidelines”, implying this was due to the rarity of the offence.

Mr Petchey outlined that under section 95 of the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, the offence could lead to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, a fine or both; or on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.

As magistrates can only issue sentences of up to 12 months’ imprisonment for a single offence, they agreed to commit the matter to Crown court.

Michael Carroll, for Thompson, said it was a “great pity” the case could not conclude today as planned, but said he has “glowing references” to show the crown court judge.

“We would like Mr Thompson to gain help,” chairman of the bench Stuart Cranmer said.

“Clearly there will be a punishment element to it but hopefully you will get help.”

File image of Chelmsford Magistrates' Court
Thompson was due to be sentenced at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court in Essex (PA)

Mr Carroll, who previously said the defendant and alcohol are “not the best of friends”, replied: “I am grateful for you words, I’m sure they give some comfort to Mr Thompson.”

Mr Cranmer extended Thompson’s unconditional bail but reminded him he must be at court for sentencing and not commit further offences in the meantime.

Thompson, wearing a white shirt, dark trousers and brown shoes, stood and said: “I am not a criminal, sir.”

Police were called at about 6.10pm on May 18 after a witness reported seeing a uniformed member of cabin crew drinking while working on a flight, the court has heard.

Police took a breath test from Thompson at Stansted Airport, with a reading of 50mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, before he gave a lower reading of 39mcg at Harlow police station.

The legal limit is 9mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath for aviation personnel, which is lower than the legal limit for driving of 35mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath, the court has previously heard.

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