Judge condemns ‘danger’ of drinking while traveling after passenger insults staff at Belfast airport

A judge in Ballymena condemned the number of drunken air passengers after the court heard a man who missed his flight storm through the gate and run onto the runway at Belfast International Airport.

Icolas Sibuele (31), whose address is listed as Fishponds Road in Sheffield, has confessed to disorderly conduct, assaulting a woman and entering “an airfield restricted area without permission”.

He also caused criminal damage by urinating and spitting into a police van, which cost £45 to clean.

The Antrim Magistrates’ Court, sitting in Ballymena, heard today that at 4:30 pm on April 14 this year, the police were ordered to take position 16 following a report that a man was abusing Swissport employees.

Police were told that the defendant missed his flight to Manchester “because the gates were closed”, but then Cibuele “used another gate, pushing past a Swissport employee, making his way onto the apron to try to catch his flight”.

The prosecutor stated that the defendant did not present the boarding pass and it was not scanned at the boarding gate.

The court learned that prior to the arrival of the police, the officer whom Sibuele pushed “chased him on an apron, stopped him and demanded documents.”

The prosecutor said the defendant refused to give the officer his documents and threw his backpack at her, hitting her on the thigh and elbow, and she feared he was going to “hit her”.

The court heard that Cibuele “continued to come up to her face, looked at her with glazed eyes and shouted that he was going to get on the plane, no matter what she said.”

Sibuele then “sat down and refused to move” and “yelled and shouted at the victim”.

The police escorted him to the domestic arrivals area, and despite being told to calm down, he continued to yell at the officers in front of the public.

During the interrogation, the defendant stated that “he could not remember any of the events, as he was drunk.”

He said he constantly asked to use the toilet while in the van for more than an hour, but according to the prosecutor, the police checked him regularly and there were no requests to use the toilet.

The court heard that the defendant had no previous convictions.

The defense lawyer said Sibuele has been in the UK since 2014 and has been “successfully trying to find asylum ever since”.

He was required to “try to raise money through the family to get a lawyer to help him” and after talking to “a woman on the internet” who said she could “offer him some help”, he ended up going to Belfast , which eventually turned into a “wild goose chase”.

The defendant’s lawyer told the court that the crime was “uncharacteristic” and “fueled” by alcohol.

She said that Cibuele was “extremely sorry” and that he was “appalled and shocked” by his behaviour.

The lawyer said that the defendant “is prohibited from looking for a job, and his financial situation is difficult. He is directly dependent on his aunt, with whom he lives, who will give him £100 a month so he can live.”

According to the lawyer, the defendant was “on the verge of trying to secure a place in the UK”.

District Judge Nigel Broderick told the defendant, who appeared via video link: “This behavior was very mean. Alcohol is no excuse, and had you not pleaded guilty and had no criminal record, the court could easily have given you a prison sentence.

“This case simply highlights the dangers associated with drinking alcohol while traveling, such as air travel. I see too many of these cases.

“Those who travel by air should consume much less alcohol, especially if they are unable to cope, which is obviously the case in your position.”

The judge placed the defendant on probation for a year and ordered him to do 120 hours of community service and pay compensation of £45 to clean the van.

The defendant told the court, “I regret my behavior.”