Mother-of-two who attacked BA cabin crew in drunken rage avoids jail

Mother-of-two, 47, who demanded six Bloody Marys in 15 minutes and attacked British Airways cabin crew in drunken rage shouting ‘You have a massive a***!’ at one avoids jail

  • Emma Langford demanded six Bloody Marys within 15 minutes of taking off 
  • She had to be handcuffed and strapped to her seat after attacking BA crew 
  • Langford had taunted staff about the £8,000 return fare and called them ‘fat’ 
  • The mother was today given a suspended sentence at Isleworth Crown Court 

A mother-of-two who attacked three flight attendants after being denied six Bloody Marys on a while flying first class to check herself into rehab was spared jail today.

Emma Langford, 47, had to be handcuffed and strapped to her seat while on the British Airways flight following the rampage, which left cabin crew shocked and the aircraft littered with broken plates and glasses. 

She demanded six Bloody Marys within 15 minutes of taking off and rapidly became violent after she was refused more alcohol when she was obviously drunk, proceeding to punch and kicked staff in the legs, screaming: ‘You have a massive a***!’

The mother, who taunted them about the £8,000 return fare, asking if they could ever afford to pay for the luxury seats, had been travelling from Heathrow to Cape Town in South Africa with her son to attend a rehabilitation clinic.

Langford, of Old Basing, Hampshire, pleaded guilty to three charges of assault, one of criminal damage, and one of being drunk on an aircraft, and behaving in a threatening, abusive, insulting and disorderly manner towards cabin crew.

Emma Langford, 47, demanded six Bloody Marys within 15 minutes of taking off and rapidly became violent after she was refused more alcohol when she was obviously drunk

Judge Nicholas Wood handed down a prison sentence of 12 months, suspended for 18 months for all of the charges to run concurrently at Isleworth Crown Court today.

An earlier hearing was told how just 35 minutes after take-off Langford approached members of staff, saying she was ‘thirsty’ and demanded huge amounts of alcohol.

After being given a Bloody Mary, she returned to her seat but came back and launched a tirade of abuse, calling two female stewards ‘fat’.

The mother then punched customer service manager Matthew Richardson and then another member of cabin crew, Poppy Haynes.

She later shoved a third member of staff, Monique Foulger, against the aircraft door before throwing a tray of plates and glasses to the floor – with one of the shards cutting Miss Foulger’s leg.

Sentencing her today, Judge Wood said: ‘You have accepted that your behaviour was appalling and also very frightening.

‘There is no escape route at 30,000 feet. It was a comparatively long haul flight.  

‘I have no doubt whatsoever there were passengers on that plane that were fearful of their lives and of what you might do.

‘On that alone, this court would be perfectly entitled to send you to prison today.’

Judge Nicholas Wood handed down a prison sentence of 12 months, suspended for 18 months for all of the charges to run concurrently at Isleworth Crown Court

Guy Wyatt, in mitigation, said Langford had spent 129 days sober after being fitted with a SCRAM bracelet and is accompanied by a 24-hour sober companion.

He said: ‘There are a great many factors in favour of suspension.

‘There are many clues even in the time of the offending that has some insight into her offending which arise absolutely from her alcoholism and possibly from being biopolar, which has been diagnosed.

‘She was en route to South Africa to get into residential rehabilitation at the time of the offending.

‘Her anxiety about flying and various other maters got the better of her.

‘Her anxieties got the better of her and she lost control of herself catastrophically.

‘She apologises and expresses her contrition towards cabin crew, other passengers, and everyone involved.’

The court heard the bracelet, which monitors blood alcohol levels in sweat every 30 minutes, has confirmed Langford has stayed sober.

He said: ‘She’s got clean scores ever since she started doing it.

‘It’s something that she values.

‘Some people would see that as intrusive, spying on them, as a burden, as a shackle.

‘She says it’s like a trusted friend that helps keep her out of trouble. She’s interested in benefiting from a SCRAM bracelet in the future.’

Mr Wyatt had said that Langford had completed her unpaid work requirement and has returned to volunteer at the project.

He said: ‘Her motivation is strong. I don’t say there is no risk of relapse.. An addict is an addict for life no matter the addiction.

‘She tells me she is 129 days sober. Any prison sentence imposed is likely to have a huge destabilising effect on her.  

‘In terms of managing her future risk, in terms of protecting the public from her in future, your honour might feel that carrying on as she is is doing more good than what would be a comparatively short period in custody.’

Langford wore an all black outfit of trousers and jumper sat quietly throughout the hearing occasionally wiping away a tear.  

Isleworth Crown Court heard she had previous drink drive convictions, the last of which was in October 2019.

Langford had to be handcuffed and strapped to her seat while on the British Airways flight following the rampage, which left cabin crew shocked and the aircraft littered with broken plates and glasses (file image)

He said: ‘You’ve had severe alcoholic problems since 2007 and you have bipolar disorder.

‘On one hand being drunk on a plane is an aggravating feature of the offence but having biopolar might reduce your culpability.

‘It was a very difficult time in your life which would have been no comfort to the people on that plane.

‘You were flying ironically to South Africa to get cure and help for your alcoholic addiction.

‘It was only when you returned to this country when you were arrested and you minimised your behaviour and involvement.

‘However I have read a great deal that is good and encouraging about you. You have fought back and fought hard to conquer your addiction.

‘You are 129 days dry which is a feat in itself.’

He added: ‘It seems to me there is a powerful argument that sending you into custody for a relatively short period of time would disrupt [your children’s] upbringing in a disproportionate way.

‘This is a serious matter. It seems to me the interest of the children are a very powerful factor to allow this court to suspend the sentence in this case.

‘It’s a borderline case. I can assure you Ms Langford that you get drunk and commit further offences I doubt any court will have mercy.

‘Accordingly, I propose to suspend the sentence for 18 months. As long as you stay out of trouble, that sentence will expire.’

Judge Wood also said: ‘I think you should pay compensation to the air crew and I think you should pay them £1000 each as they shouldn’t have had to deal with that.

‘You’ll also pay costs of £1,000. That is a total of £4,000.’

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