Irish lawyer admits assault, racist tirade on Air India flight

Simone O’Broin (50) drunkenly abused staff and smoked cigarette in toilets on plane

Simone O’Broin  leaves Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court after admitting a racist rant on a flight from India to London last November. Photograph: Lewis Pennock/PA Wire

Simone O’Broin leaves Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court after admitting a racist rant on a flight from India to London last November. Photograph: Lewis Pennock/PA Wire


An Irish lawyer spat at a flight attendant during a racist rant after she was refused alcohol as she flew business class from India to London.

Simone O’Broin (50), known as Simone Burns, was initially served three bottles of wine but declared “I’m a f****** international lawyer” when she was denied more on Air India flight AI131 from Mumbai on November 11th, 2018.

She also called staff “Indian money-grabbing c****” and smoked a cigarette in the toilets during the tirade which left other passengers “shocked”.

O’Broin, of First Avenue, Hove, East Sussex, pleaded guilty to being drunk on an aircraft and assault by beating at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

The lawyer, described in court as an Irish national, will be sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on April 4th after magistrates said the offence was too serious for them to deal with.

The incident was captured on video by a fellow passenger and posted on Twitter. (Viewer discretion is advised.)

Chairing the bench, Robert Della-Sala told O’Broin: “You clearly put the safety of the aircraft in jeopardy by smoking. You were disruptive to other passengers who must have found the whole experience quite shocking.

“The disruption was clearly over a long period of time, the level of racist abuse was prolonged and unwarranted — there’s no excuse for that.

“The spitting in the face must have been one of the most awful things that can happen to anybody, given the transmission of diseases.”

Belfast-born O’Broin, who trained as a lawyer in the UK, studied international law and worked for years in Palestine, was understood to be on her way home from a two month break in Goa when she was caught on film.

Swearing and shouting

She appeared in court with a plaster across her nose and wearing a green cardigan and black trousers with heeled boots.

Prosecuting, Lauren Smith said the nine-hour flight took off at 4.10am as O’Broin sat in business class with 17 other passengers.

She was given three bottles of wine with breakfast “immediately after takeoff” but began to complain when she was refused more.

Ms Smith said: “She got up from her seat and began swearing and shouting. She was shouting that she was a ‘f****** international lawyer’ and telling them to ‘f*** off’.”

She also shouted: “You f****** arses, you f****** Indian money-grabbing c****.”

O’Broin then went into the toilet to try to light a cigarette before she was given a verbal warning three hours into the flight, the court heard.

Ms Smith said: “Her behaviour continued. She was then given a written warning by the captain. This also made no difference to Miss Burns’ behaviour.”

O’Broin then ranted: “F****** Air India is useless, I will say what I want.”

Flight staff then discovered evidence she had been smoking in the toilet and there was “a smell of cigarettes coming from within”.

Her tirade continued further into the flight as she got up from her seat and marched to the area where alcohol was being served to again demand more, the court heard.

She shouted: “I have done so much for you f****** Indians and f****** Pakistanis, you should be grateful to me.”

A cabin supervisor, Dastur Pervin, tried to intervene but she was also told to “f*** off”, shown the middle finger and assaulted, Ms Smith said.

She added: “Miss Burns was right in her face and she felt scared and when she refused to give Miss Burns more alcohol Miss Burns spat in her face.”

Burns also “grabbed her by her right upper arm and squeezed it” before going on to abuse other crew members and passengers.

After touchdown she was arrested in London by officers from the Metropolitan Police.

O’Broin was bailed ahead of her sentencing. – PA