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.