$data.PageTitle

NAV CANADA employees working at James Richardson International Airport contacted police after a pilot saw the drone near the aircraft while it was in flight. (File image)

Two people have been sentenced to 30 days in prison after a flight from England to Los Cabos had to be diverted in Winnipeg on Jan. 30.

Ben James Iontton, 25, and Natalie Louise Walker, 34, both from the U.K., were arrested last week in Winnipeg for unruly behaviour on the plane.

Both the passengers, who didn’t know each other but were on the same flight, pleaded guilty to charges related to the incident. They were each sentenced to 30 days in prison, unsupervised probation, and restitution in the amount of $100,000. Walker’s sentence included credit for time in custody. 

Upon release, Iontton and Walker will immediately have to report to the Canadian Border Services Agency.

THE HEARING

On Tuesday, court heard Iontton was intoxicated, yelling and swearing while the flight was in the air. Crown attorney Peter Edgett said the man’s behaviour was unpredictable and crew members had to restrain him to his seat. 

The plane was diverted in Winnipeg and RCMP officers were brought on board to arrest him. Court heard that Iontton yelled obscenities at police, elbowed an officer in the chest and tried to knee him. 

Edgett said once the man sobered up, he couldn’t remember what happened, noting Iontton kept ordering drinks from the flight attendants and was upset when the crew members tried to cut him off.

Court heard Walker also got drinks from the flight attendant, and drank half a bottle of gin purchased from duty free. While in the air, Edgett said, Walker was yelling, swearing and making inappropriate comments, prompting a warning from the captain. 

During the diversion in Winnipeg for Iontton’s offences, the captain made the decision to also remove Walker from the plane, so police came back and arrested her.

Edgett said since the crew had been working the maximum number of hours permitted, the plane was de-boarded and everyone had to spend the night in Winnipeg. He noted this had a ripple effect as there were people in Los Cabos waiting for the plane.

He said in total 910 passengers were impacted by Iontton’s and Walker’s actions.

“You’ve got all these people that were going on vacation, worked hard, they were using their vacation time, and this is the last thing you’d want to have happen to you,” Edgett said.

The Crown prosecutor added the incident places a huge financial burden on the airline.

“The accused, both of them, should be really ashamed of their conduct.”

Defence lawyer Amado Claros highlighted the potential impact the incident could have on Iontton’s and Walker’s lives, given the amount of coverage the incident received. 

“This will haunt them for years to come,” he said.

During her sentencing, Judge Lindy Choy said some could say the two passengers were just having a few drinks, but the fact it happened on a plane changes things drastically.

“The safety of everyone on board the plane depends on the cooperation of the passengers,” she said.

Both Iontton and Walker expressed regrets, telling court they were very sorry for their behaviour.