Lifestyle & Belief

Drunken Australian grandmother punches fellow passenger, turning Qantas flight around


A Jetstar plane (top) is seen taxiing past a Qantas plane (below) on the tarmac at the domestic airport in Sydney on June 21, 2011.


Greg Wood

A drunken grandmother forced a New Zealand-bound Qantas flight back to Melbourne, Australia, after reportedly punching a passenger in the face.

Frances Macaskill, 58, from Perth, pleaded guilty in a Melbourne court to one charge of offensive and disorderly behavior on board an aircraft and one charge of assault, reported.

The prosecutor, Lauren Gurry, told the court Macaskill had been in seat 8F on board Jetconnect's QF37 flight bound for Wellington around 9:30 a.m. on Saturday when she reportedly began yelling profanities at the air crew and other passengers a short way into the flight.

She was seen drinking alcohol bought duty free at Melbourne International Airport before boarding the plane, Gurry said, the Fairfax media reported.

"As the accused continued to yell profanities at other passengers and air crew, she then began to punch the seats in front of her in a violent manner," she said.

Ignoring warnings from the crew to stop disrupting the flight, she stood up and punched the man seated in 7E in the face, causing a two-inch cut that bled heavily, Fairfax wrote.

She was then restrained by the cabin crew with flexicuffs and moved to an empty seat at the rear of the aircraft.

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When she continued swearing and repeatedly head butted the seat in front of her, the crew strapped her down with child seatbelts.

The captain turned the flight back to Melbourne less than an hour after taking off, with an associated cost to Qantas of $19,760, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Macaskill's defense attorney Nadia Moralis said her client had no memory of what had happened, and was appalled by what she had done, recognizing that she had an underlying problem with alcohol.

She was released on bail, to be sentenced Tuesday after a victim impact statement has been obtained.

News cited the Australian Federal Police as saying the woman faced two years in jail and fine of more than $5,000.