With nine witnesses attending court either in person or by videolink, Sarah McGuire was due to go on trial at Antrim Magistrates Court yesterday, but following last minute discussions between the defence and prosecution, the 39-year-old confessed to all bar two of the charges against her.
Defence counsel Sean Doherty confirmed that McGuire (39), from Tyrconnell Street in Derry was entering guilty pleas to charges of common assault, behaving in a threatening, abusive or insulting manner towards a member of aircraft crew and refusing to obey the lawful command of an aircraft commander on October 18 last year.
At an earlier hearing McGuire, who attended court in person, admitted using disorderly behaviour at Belfast International Airport arising from the same incident.
Following her admissions yesterday, the prosecution asked Deputy District Judge Ann Marshall to formally have charges of being drunk on a plane and common assault “left on the books.”
The facts have yet to be fully opened but it is understood the charges arise following an incident on a Belfast to Edinburgh easyJet flight which led to McGuire being escorted off.
In a video recorded by a passenger on the flight, a woman is escorted off the plane, and is seen not wearing a mask, coughing and shouting.
Applying for sentencing to be adjourned to allow for the preparation of a pre-sentence probation report, Mr Doherty said the offences were committed with a backdrop of “difficult and traumatic circumstances” which he was sure would be “fully outlined” in the probation report.
He confirmed that McGuire was also in breach of a previously suspended jail sentence for offences of assaulting police and causing criminal damage, adding that “she has been fully advised that clearly, her liberty is very much in doubt”.
Adjourning passing sentence to April 20, DJ Marshall said it may be beneficial if the hours of footage relating to the incident, taken from airport CCTV, body worn camera footage and social media videos, were condensed down for whichever judge passes sentence as “edited highlights can give a fuller picture.” Freeing McGuire on continuing bail, the judge advised her to co-operate fully in the completion of the probation report but warned her that “going to custody is a very real possibility”.