Before Christmas, we covered the story of David Morris, the air passenger who Boris Johnson had urged to calm down on his flight from Kuala Lumpar to London.
Morris pleaded guilty to common assault and drunkenness in an aircraft.
Press reports are still a little sketchy but we understand that Morris was drunk and had been violent and abusive towards members of the crew, including head butting one of them. It had been alleged that Morris had been racially abusive to members of the crew, demanding more drinks and being aggressive. A witness said after several attempts to calm him down, six cabin staff handcuffed him, tied his legs and then strapped him in his seat.
The BBC covered the story here if you’d like a few more details.
It appears that on Thursday 18 December, Mr Morris pleaded guilty at Uxbridge Mags’ Court. There appears to be a little confusion as to why his case is being sent to Isleworth Crown Court for sentencing – after all, the headlines suggest that Morris pleaded to common assault, which regular readers of the blog will know is a summary only offence meaning it can only be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court save for certain exceptions.
Morris in fact pleaded guilty to common assault and drunkenness in an aircraft.
Common assault (Criminal Justice Act 1988 s.39) – summary only offence with a maximum penalty of 6 months’ custody.
Drunkenness in an aircraft (Air Navigation Order 2009 art.139). Article 139 is listed in Schedule 13 Part C of the Order and accordingly, art.241(7) states that such offences are triable either way and the maximum sentence is one of two years’ custody.
Therefore, although it may appear to many that the assault is the more serious offence, it is due to the drunknness offence that Magistrates have the ability to send this case up to the Crown Court. The common assault offence, being “joined’ to the drunknness offence (by virtue of it arising out of the same set of facts) will also be sentenced in the Crown Court.
So Morris was sent to the Crown Court for sentence. We don’t have the remarks and we have no details other than the final sentence – 6 months’ imprisonment. We dont know how the sentence was structured (whether there were consecutive sentences etc.) and without any more specific details it is hard to say whether or not a sentence of 6 months (representing a sentence of 9 months after a trial) is on the money or not.
However, we can say that it is certainly in the range expected for this type of offence. If the reports that Morris had been racially abusive and had head butted one of the crew are correct, he might count himself a little fortunate to have received 6 months.