Jenny Lauren fined €2k for air rage incident

Jenny Lauren leaving court in Ennis. Picture: PA

The niece of fashion designer Ralph Lauren has been fined €2,000 for pushing an air hostess and swearing at airline staff.

Jennifer Lauren pleaded guilty to breaching the peace and being drunk on board a transatlantic Delta Air Lines flight which had to be diverted to Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland on Monday afternoon.

The 41-year-old appeared before Ennis District Court in Co Clare, where her solicitor claimed Lauren was upset and embarrassed by her actions which she said were out of character and caused by a reaction to alcohol mixed with medication.

More than 200 passengers and crew were on board the flight from Barcelona to New York when the air rage incident took place.

The diversion cost Delta $43,158 (€31,770).

The defendant admitted being intoxicated to such an extent as would give rise to a reasonable apprehension that she might endanger herself or other persons on board the aircraft and to breaching the peace by engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour.

A third charge, of engaging in behaviour likely to cause serious offence or annoyance to any person on board the aircraft, after being asked by a crew member to stop, was withdrawn by the prosecution.

All the charges were brought under the Air Navigation and Transport Act 1973.

Lauren bit her lip and looked to the ground in the dock while Garda Inspector Tom Kennedy told the court she had been loud-mouthed, abusive and threatening on the aircraft.

He said the flight, bound for New York’s JFK airport, had been in the air for two hours when an air hostess noticed the defendant crying in her seat, 21G, which would not recline properly.

He said Lauren told stewardess Constance Topping to “get the f*** out of my face” as she tried to help, and when told to calm down she became more abusive.

The court heard Ms Topping went to brief her supervisor Jennifer Simpson at the top of the plane and Lauren followed her through first class and in the galley “at speed” where she ranted, roared and shouted incoherently.

“She told the air hostess she was going to go ballistic and pushed the air hostess hard and she hit her back against the wall of the aircraft,” Mr Kennedy said.

He revealed her frightening experience continued with Lauren calling her a “f****** ugly, blonde bitch” and calling Ms Simpson a “fat ugly, unhappy, blonde bitch”.

A pilot on a rest break in the cabin also intervened and was called “an asshole” by the defendant, Mr Kennedy added.

Lauren, dressed in a black jumper, burgundy velvet skirt and boots, looked back to her friends for reassurance as the details were outlined to the packed courtroom.

The court heard the captain decided to divert the flight almost 400 miles to Shannon Airport, with the abuse continuing for more than an hour until touchdown when Lauren was arrested by gardaí.

Officers noted she was incoherent and smelt of alcohol, despite airline crew stating she drank little or no alcohol on board.

When arrested under caution at the airport she replied: “Can you say that in English please?”, later claiming she thought she had landed in Spain.

In mitigation, defence solicitor Sharon Curley said her client was on medication and suffered from depression, bi-polar and generalised anxiety and had been separated from her friend on the flight.

She said she has little memory of the incident.

“My client is extremely embarrassed and extremely upset by her actions,” she said, offering her apologies to the airline crew, passengers and gardai.

She said when the “stimulants” wore off and Lauren “returned to herself” she was unable to believe what happened.

Ms Curley revealed Lauren – a fine arts graduate with an unblemished record and no other convictions – has previously suffered from anorexia and written a book on her experience and won awards from eating disorder charities for her work.

“She is going to have to live with the consequences of what happened for a long time,” she added.

The solicitor handed references to the court, including from Lauren’s father Jerry, which all described the incident as being isolated and totally out of character for the loving, hard-working, articulate single woman.

In sentencing Judge Patrick Durcan accepted Lauren’s early guilty plea, her impeccable character and commended her for overcoming an eating disorder.

But he described the “very personal insults” directed at the two air hostesses and pilot “as nothing short of reprehensible”.

“By virtue of the behaviour of this woman over 100 people had their schedules disrupted,” he added.

“All of that in my view is serious in the extreme.”

The diversion cost the airline more than $43,000, including $17,704 in fuel charges, $1,662 in pilot costs, $1,451 for flight attendants, $1,226 in landing fees, $2,286 in handling charges, $700 for maintenance and $17,230 for passenger upheaval.

The court heard 107 passengers were affected by her actions, with 10 put on later connecting flights, 70 given an overnight stay and 27 staying for two nights in New York.

Lauren refused to comment as she left the courthouse through a rear entrance with two friends.

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