Austrian librarian restrained by three men on flight from US

Tue, Aug 23, 2011, 01:00

THREE MALE passengers had to restrain a librarian during an air rage incident on board a transatlantic flight at the weekend, a court heard yesterday.

At Ennis District Court, Garda Noel O’Rourke said that at one stage Harald Albrecht (32) made a lunge for a female flight attendant but did not make contact. The Austrian Airlines flight en route from Washington to Vienna had to divert to Shannon airport at 7.05am on Saturday arising from the incident, and Garda O’Rourke said Albrecht “had to be forcibly removed from the aircraft”.

Garda O’Rourke said Albrecht had taken a sleeping tablet along with some wine and became agitated when refused more alcohol by flight attendants.

“He became abusive towards the flight attendants and passengers’ children moved from the seating around Mr Albrecht.”

Albrecht was delusional and intoxicated when gardaí came on board, and when he sobered up the Austrian “was severely remorseful and embarrassed”, Garda O’Rourke said.

Albrecht was coming from a five-week internship at a New York library where he was studying the Holocaust and he has no previous convictions.

Reading out a written statement to court, Albrecht told Judge John O’Neill he would like to apologise to Austrian Airlines, the cabin crew and the passengers.

He took the tablet because he was afraid of flying over the ocean.

“I feel deeply sorry and ashamed for what I have done.” He had no memory of the incident “but I accept what the witnesses said . . . I will never take a sleeping tablet again”.

Solicitor for Albrecht Jenny Fitzgibbon asked that Judge O’Neill apply the Probation Act and not record a conviction, saying Albrecht’s career could be jeopardised by a prosecution.

The judge said “it was a shocking experience for the passengers concerned” but the offence was at the lower end of so-called air rage offences.

Judge O’Neill said he would impose a fine of €400 for the offence.