Drunk passenger allegedly cost Qantas $120,000

Bernadette Chua, ninemsn
12:07pm December 19, 2012

A man who was booted off a Qantas plane for allegedly being violent and intoxicated reportedly cost the airline $120,000 after the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing so he could be arrested.

Justin Cooke, 34, was kicked off the flight between Sydney and Tokyo yesterday after he allegedly lit a cigarette in the aircraft's toilet, punched a member of the cabin crew and then spat in the same staff member's eye after being restrained with "flexi-cuffs".

The plane, which was carrying 350 passengers, was forced to dump 60,000 litres of fuel to land at Cairns International Airport about 1:45am, the Cairns Magistrates' Court heard yesterday.

Commonwealth prosecutor Audra Meginyte said, "I am informed by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) this incident cost Qantas about $120,000."

"He became agitated when cabin crew confronted him for lighting a cigarette. The defendant then punched a cabin manager in the chest."

"The pilot made a decision to divert the aircraft to Cairns International," Ms Meginyte said.

Mr Cooke became intoxicated about 30 minutes into the flight after drinking from a bottle of vodka and he registered a blood-alcohol reading of 0.300 when the plane landed, the court heard.

He was arrested by AFP and charged with lighting a cigarette on an aircraft, behaving in an offensive matter and assault and acts threating the safety of persons in an aircraft.

He was bailed to live with his mother in Western Australia and will face court again in January.

Sources: The Cairns Post
Author: Bernadette Chua, Approving editor: Fiona Willan

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