Conor McGregor

Sydney Irishman avoids jail over air-rage incident

Leroy Hyland took four times the recommended dose of sleeping pills on a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney.

Leroy Hyland took four times the recommended dose of sleeping pills on a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney.

A 26-year-old Irishman has avoided a jail sentence after pleading guilty to a range of charges associated with an air-rage incident in October.

Leroy Hyland took four times the recommended dose of sleeping pills before he covered his head in a blanket, pushed a flight attendant and tried to storm the cockpit on an Los Angeles to Sydney Delta Airlines flight. He had been in the US to attend the Conor McGregor fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov in Las Vegas.

Hyland, who lives in Randwick in Sydney's eastern suburbs and is on a temporary working visa, was carrying an 'unidentifiable black object' when he told the flight attendants he had been robbed of his wallet, passport and phone. The flight attendants offered to accompany Hyland back to his seat to find his supposedly missing possessions, Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court heard on Tuesday.

“At this time, using both of his hands, the defendant gave [one flight attendant] a hard shove to his shoulder causing the flight attendant to fall backwards onto [the second cabin crew],' a statement of facts said. “The defendant ran towards the cockpit door and began beating on the door with his fists.”

The banging was loud enough for the captain to hear and internal security procedures were activated.

United States air marshals were forced to restrain Hyland for the remainder of the flight.

“In an attempt to get away from the air marshal, the defendant turned and jumped over seat 6B into the adjacent aisle, stepping on the passenger seated in seat 6C,” the statement of facts said.

Eventually the air marshals were able to restrain Hyland and he spent the rest of the trip handcuffed next to them until the plan touched down in Sydney.

Hyland was deeply ashamed of his conduct, defence lawyer David Newham told the court.

“There's definitely been a lot of soul-searching for My Hyland after this very, very regrettable event that occurred last year,' Mr Newham said.

The court heard Hyland had taken two tablets of the over-the-counter sleeping pill Unisom, then when he felt no effect swallowed two more.

Magistrate Julie Huber said if Hyland had not taken the tablets it was unlikely the disturbance would have occurred.

“Of course, you took four times the recommended dosage,” Ms Huber said, according to the Daily Mail.

“You took it upon yourself to take four times the amount simply because you wanted to sleep. In many respects it is no different from having that extra glass of scotch or alcohol.”

Ms Huber noted Hyland's contrition and that the had co-operated with the air marshals once he was handcuffed.

“It would appear that this is an unusual event and that as far as personal deterrence is concerned the requirement is relatively low,” she said.

Hyland was facing a potential penalty of a $10,000 fine and two years in prison.

Ms Huber fined Hyland $4,000 for behaving in an offensive and disorderly manner and imposed two community corrections orders of two years and three years with a total of 550 hours of community service.

Conor McGregor arrested and charged in Miami

Conor McGregor’s mug shot from Miami police.

Conor McGregor’s mug shot from Miami police.

Conor McGregor was charged with felony strong-armed robbery and misdemeanor criminal mischief after an altercation with a fan early on Monday morning local time, according to the Miami Beach police.

The Dubliner allegedly “slapped” the phone out of a man’s hand – who had attempted to take the 30-year-old Irish fighter's picture outside of a Miami Beach night club around 5am on Monday.

McGregor allegedly proceeded to stomp on the mobile phone several times, according to the police report. McGregor then picked up the smashed phone and walked away. 

The incident was caught on surveillance cameras and McGregor was arrested later on Monday at his Miami Beach home. The Miami-Herald was first to report the news.

McGregor was arrested last April and faced multiple charges related to his attack on a bus ahead of a UFC event in Brooklyn. Prosecutors eventually agreed to drop two felonies and other charges as part of a plea deal McGregor agreed to in July. 

The plea agreement did not include a probation term.

Sydney Irish air rage accused 'overdosed' on sleeping pills

Leroy Hyland was restrained on a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney after attending the Conor McGregor fight in Las Vegas in October. Picture: Facebook

Leroy Hyland was restrained on a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney after attending the Conor McGregor fight in Las Vegas in October. Picture: Facebook

An Irishman who attacked a crew member on a flight back from the Conor McGregor fight in Las Vegas had taken an excessive dose of sleeping tablets, a court has heard.

Leroy Thomas Hyland took quadruple the recommended US dosage of a sleeping pill which he had never previously consumed during a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney on October 10th last year.

The 26-year-old then “woke up in a freaked-out state” and believed that passengers were gang members and had stolen his wallet, passport and phone.

Mr Hyland, who is on bail, has pleaded guilty to three charges in relation to a disturbance on Delta Air Lines flight DL41 from Los Angeles to Sydney on October 10 last year.

He pleaded guilty to behaving in an offensive and disorderly manner on an aircraft, common assault and assaulting/threatening with violence/intimidating aircraft crew.

The 26-year-old appeared before Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on Tuesday where his lawyer said he took an adverse reaction to sleeping pills taken after “an overseas catch-up trip to Las Vegas to watch the Conor McGregor fight.”

Mr Hyland ran out of the usual sleeping tablets he took for long-haul flights and purchased sleeping pills which a shop assistant suggested would “really knock him out” for the 14 hour flight from LA to Sydney.

He initially took two pills but didn’t feel much effect so he took a further two tablets which is quadruple the recommended US dosage, according to his lawyer.

He then fell asleep but woke an hour later and “the nightmare begins.”

Hyland travelled to Las Vegas to watch Irish UFC fighter Conor McGregor in action.

Hyland travelled to Las Vegas to watch Irish UFC fighter Conor McGregor in action.

Mr Hyland was in a “freaked out state” and believed other passengers were gang members and had robbed his belongings, the court heard.

His lawyer said: “This was the first time he had taken this type of sleeping pill and he had no prior knowledge of its effects.”

The Irishman had a blanket over his head “to hide from those he believed were targeting him” and a flight attendant said he was “rambling about getting robbed.”

He believed the flight attendants were part of the group that had stolen his belongings telling them ‘you are part of it, you are one of them.’

The court heard Mr Hyland was disorientated and told crew members: “Someone is trying to steal my identity. I don’t know who to trust.”

Mr Hyland’s lawyer said he was frightened by the situation in which he found himself and at one stage shouted: ‘Help, help’ in a thick Irish accent which may not have been understood.

A doctor’s report tendered to court concluded that Mr Hyland’s behaviour could have been caused by taking an excessive number of sleeping tablets.

After the incident on-board, Mr Hyland was restrained for the remaining 10 hours of the flight and arrested when the plane landed at Sydney Airport where he “appeared very confused” and didn’t seem to remember what had happened on the flight.

His girlfriend was concerned and took him to hospital that night and the court heard he “wasn’t right until 7am the next day.”

Mr Hyland’s lawyer told the court the 26-year-old works 60 hours a week as a sheet metal worker and the act was “so out of left field, there’s a low to zero risk of him re-offending.”

He said: “This man is worthy of a second chance” and asked the court not to jail him.

“He made a mistake and it’s not going to happen again,” he added.

He said it had always been Mr Hyland’s dream to “live and work in Australia” and he hoped to apply for permanent residency in the future and a criminal conviction put this dream “at risk.”

The acting magistrate said she accepted that Mr Hyland was otherwise of “good character” and “didn’t take the tablets with the view that this would occur.”

But she found the offences were “very serious” and asked for a sentencing report to be prepared before she passes sentence.

The case was adjourned until April 16 to allow for the preparation of this report.

Mr Hyland was supported in court by his brother who travelled from Ireland to attend the hearing.

His employer, his partner and a close friend all provided character references to the court.

A victim impact statement from the US flight attendant who was attacked by Mr Hyland was also submitted to court.

Dublin singer eager for Aussie return

Gavin James has built a following from Belfast to Brazil.

Gavin James has built a following from Belfast to Brazil.

“Can’t wait,” Gavin James replies when he’s asked if he is looking forward to his Australian tour in March.

It will only be the second time he has played these shores.

“Should be great craic. It’s a really quick trip but I’d love to go over there next time and spend about a week and hang out a little bit. Still should be great craic though.”

It was in 2016 that the Dubliner played his first Australian shows.

“It was great. The Australian crowds are class. They were singing all the words, a lovely crowd to sing to. I’m excited to see what it’s like this time now that it’s on a bigger scale. We’re bringing the band over as well, so it should be good.”

In addition to his supporting band, James will also bring his new album, Only Ticket Home, which was released late last year and went straight to number two in the Irish charts.

The album features the the triumphant love song Glow, which is accompanied by a feelgood video where the singer walks through the cobbled streets of Temple Bar singing and being joined by all the hen parties, buskers, visitors and mime artists of Dublin’s famous tourist trap.

“We did it in Temple Bar because I played there for years before I got a deal. When I left school, I went straight into Temple Bar and did gigs, 15 gigs a week, but it helped me learn how to sing, write songs and play so I thought I would do a video in Temple Bar and get everybody involved.

“We were lucky with the weather. I remember somebody was saying, ‘We should go to Portugal or something’. I was like, ‘We have to do it in Ireland’.”

From Temple Bar, the then 21-year-old would go onto sign a record deal. His debut album Bitter Pill was released in 2016 and reached number five in Ireland.

James once said that every gig he does is like a party that he is never quite sure anyone is going to show up for. Even now, does he still get that feeling?

“Definitely. It always comes back. I put my first show on in Brazil last year. I was like, ‘Is anyone actually going to come to this show in Brazil? I’m just some lad from Dublin that has one song on the radio over here’.

“I didn’t expect anybody to show up because you never know. The Irish crowds have always been amazing and very welcoming but then you go to a new market, you never know.

“You’re always unsure no matter how much you get played on the radio or how much streaming there is, it all depends on whether it connects with people or not. I think it’s always just a shot in the dark no matter where you play really and if it goes well, book the next tour immediately.”

Just so you know, people did show up to his Brazilian shows and he is booked to go back to play a venue as big as Dublin’s Olympia in Sao Paulo:

“It’s mad that it’s so far away and the music still reaches; it’s deadly.”

Gavin James returns to Australia in March for a whistle-stop tour.

Gavin James returns to Australia in March for a whistle-stop tour.

The Brazilian connection came about after his music featured on Brazilian soap opera Pega Pega and, when he visited the country, he did a cameo performance.

So, how was his South American soap opera debut? “It was gas. The director wanted me to speak in Portuguese but my accent was terrible. There was a girl and her boyfriend, I think they were making up or something. I ended up doing a couple of takes saying it in Portuguese and eventually they took me saying, ‘Howaya, Luisa. This song is for you’. It wasn’t even, ‘Hey, Luisa’. It was, ‘Howaya, Luisa’. It was very funny.”

His music has also featured on the popular Aussie soap Home And Away but he says he’s not sure about seeking a role in Summer Bay.

“I’ll head down to the set and see what happens. They’re always playing the tunes. I always get a text off my ma every time saying, ‘you’re on Home And Away again’.”

The now 27-year-old is also huge in Holland, Singapore and the Phillipines to name just a few faraway places his music has reached.

One memorable recent gig for James involved playing a set at Conor McGregor’s sister’s wedding. How did he come to perform at the family gathering of another very famous Dubliner?

“She was a big fan so his publicist gave me a shout and asked if I was around and the wedding was half an hour from my gaff so I went down, played Nervous, played a couple of tunes at the wedding. I didn’t even meet him. I just ran in, did the wedding and then had to make it back to the airport to get back to London.”

Gavin James plays The Foundry in Brisbane on Thursday 21 March; The Prince Bandroom in Melbourne on Friday 22 March; Manning Bar in Sydney on Saturday 23 March and Badlands in Perth on Sunday 24 March.