(Trinidad Express) Canadian national Jacques Heroux, who caused an American Airlines flight to divert from its intended route to Brazil and land at Piarco International Airport so that he could be kicked off for being drunk, pleaded guilty yesterday to being a nuisance aboard the flight.
But he said he did it because he was in love.
He was fined TT$8,000, which he has to pay by today or he will serve six weeks’ hard labour, and was released on a bond in the sum of TT$25,000 so that he could make arrangements to pay the fine.
With the help of his attorney, Fareed Ali, Heroux, 48, told Arima Magistrate Adrian Darmanie of the Arima Second Court that he had had consumed eight mini bottles of Dewars Scotch Whisky just after he boarded the flight in Miami, USA, last weekend.
According to the Airports Authority, who laid the charge against Heroux, the American Airlines flight had departed Miami International Airport and was en-route to Brazil when Heroux began behaving in a disorderly manner.
Around 4.30 a.m. on Saturday, the flight’s captain radioed the Piarco tower and told them about Heroux, who reportedly took off his seat-belt and began laying across three seats as the flight attendants pleaded with him to sit properly.
He did not.
Ali informed the court that his client lived at Du Grey Avenue in Quebec and worked as an electrician with a Canadian firm known as Nunavik Nickell and was not married, not did he have any children.
Attorney Ali further explained that Heroux told him that a few years ago while working on contract in Nigeria he met a Brazilian woman, aged 37, and that he was happy and in love and he was going to meet her in Brazil so that they could be married in December.
“He admitted he was drunk and that he caused issues on the plane, but he said that he has never been in trouble before and that he travels a lot for work and he would not like any conviction recorded against his name,” said Ali.
The attorney further explained that Heroux was very excited to be going to Brazil to meet his fiancee and that he was drinking to celebrate his upcoming marriage.
Magistrate Darmanie told Ali that what his client did was very dangerous and, apart from diverting an entire flight to have him thrown off, Heroux’s actions added a lot of unnecessary expense to American Airlines, as well as inconvenienced his fellow travellers that day.
“The maximum fine is $25,000 and jail for a year,” said Magistrate Darmanie.
A representative from the Canadian High Commission, Asha Stewart, was present in court to assist Heroux with his transaction.