Melanie Petrinec | December 19th, 2012
Justin Richard Cooke was granted bail yesterday to live with his mother in Western Australia after facing the Cairns Magistrates' Court for allegedly lighting a cigarette in the aircraft's toilet and assaulting a cabin crew member who confronted him over it.
The court was told the pilots on flight QF21 to Tokyo had to dump 60,000 litres of fuel before the plane with 350 passengers on board could land at Cairns International Airport, which was forced to reopen about 1.45am yesterday to facilitate the emergency landing.
"I am informed by the Australian Federal Police this incident cost Qantas about $120,000," Commonwealth prosecutor Audra Meginyte said.
The drama unfolded about 30 minutes into the flight as Cooke became heavily intoxicated, drinking from a bottle of vodka he brought on to the aircraft.
He became agitated when cabin crew confronted him for lighting a cigarette, Ms Meginyte said.
"The defendant then punched a cabin manager in the chest," Ms Meginyte said.
The court heard he was restrained using "flexi-cuffs", but still managed to spit in the eyes of the cabin crew manager and on his jacket.
The pilot was then informed a passenger was "unsuitable to travel", Ms Meginyte said.
"The pilot made a decision to divert the aircraft to Cairns International," she said.
The court heard Mr Cooke registered a blood-alcohol reading of 0.300 per cent when he was arrested by the AFP.
He appeared in court in the afternoon as he was still too intoxicated to attend the morning session to face the four charges, which include lighting a cigarette on an aircraft, behaving in an offensive matter, assault and acts threatening the safety of persons in an aircraft.
Mr Cooke told Magistrate Robert Spencer he still wanted to travel to Japan.
"I was on the way to Japan to visit my daughter," he said.
"What if I don't go with Qantas or Jetstar?"
Mr Spencer said it was not possible because while bail was unopposed by the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions, he would have to surrender his passport and not go to an international point of departure.
"These are very serious charges, you must understand that," the magistrate told Mr Cooke.
The matter will be heard in the Cairns Magistrates' Court again on January 31.
Mr Cooke must travel from Kalamunda in WA to appear at that time, or have a lawyer represent him.
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