A British activist was sentenced to six months behind bars this week after entering a guilty plea to charges stemming from her now infamous drunken tantrum on a London-bound Air India flight. The Belfast native and refugee rights lawyer was videotaped threatening crew members and hurling racist insults after being denied additional wine in the business class cabin.
If international human rights attorney Simone Burns thinks the business class wine service on Air India is lacking, then she is really going to be disappointed with her upcoming prison experience. The disgraced refugee rights advocate was sentenced this week to six months behind bars as a result of entering a guilty to charges related to her racist and at times violent outburst on a Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (BOM) to London Heathrow Airport (LHR)-bound flight in November.
Video of the now infamous incident shows that the intoxicated business class flyer became incensed after being cut off from consuming additional alcoholic beverages by crew members. During the racist tantrum that followed, Burns hurled rapid-fire racist insults and eventually spat in a flight attendant’s face.
“Do you treat business class passengers like that? Who are international criminal lawyers for the Palestinian people?” Burns can be heard screaming at cabin crew members in the footage. “I work for all you f***ing people. The f***ing Rohingyas, the f***ing people of all Asia, for you, I’m an international criminal lawyer. Don’t get any money for it by the way. But you won’t give me a f***ing glass of wine, is that correct?”
Calling herself the “leader of the f***ing boycott movement,” the out-of-control business class passenger eventually threatened to set her sights on India’s national carrier if she wasn’t given a drink. “If I say boycott f***ing Air India, done,” she explained to the stone-faced crew members. “Do you understand me? You can’t give me a wee bottle of wine?”
She became even more irate when her ultimatum involving economic sanctions didn’t earn her a screw top bottle of pinot grigio and turned to personal attacks. She was caught on camera loudly calling a female flight attendant an “Indian f***ing money grabbing bastard.”
Now, according to The Irish Central, the 50-year-old human rights lawyer will serve a six-month prison sentence. She had previously entered a guilty plea to charges of assault and being drunk on a plane.
Not surprisingly, the lawyer was singing a much different tune at her sentencing hearing. Speaking through her attorney, Burns blamed her embarrassing behavior on “mixture of altitude, the consumption of drink, and anxiety.” Defense attorney Mark Kimsey told the court that his client was ashamed of her behavior.
“This is not a lady who has a drink problem,” Kimsey said. “This is not a woman who has a drug problem. This is totally out of character.”
While the judge seemed moved by Burns’ good works, he indicated that the seriousness of her crimes demanded an equally serious punishment.
“You are a woman, not just of good character but a positive and impeccable character, a righter of wrongs,” Judge Nicholas Wood said announcing the jail sentence. “What this has done, thanks to social media, you have had death threats and been a hermit in your home. The fact remains that you were drunk and obnoxious almost from the beginning to the end. You were abusive, contemptuous and confrontational and used appalling language.”
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