A Dutch trainee driving instructor who caused "pandemonium" on an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin when he made a hoax coronavirus claim has been given a two-month prison sentence.
Former boat captain and ski instructor Job van den Broek (30) pleaded guilty yesterday to an air-rage charge after he delayed Wednesday's flight EI 605 from Amsterdam because he would not end a phone call.
He was flying to Ireland to get a connecting flight to Los Angeles to propose to his girlfriend, Judge Conal Gibbons heard at Dublin District Court.
Sentencing, he said Van den Broek thought there were special rules for him and he told a fiction to the flight attendant that his mother had the virus.
The accused buried his head in his hands as the sentence was handed down. However, the business graduate was granted appeal bail, which he took up soon after the hearing.
Van den Broek refused to get off his phone after cabin crew pleaded with him to finish his call so they could give the flight safety demonstration.
He later lied to cabin crew, telling them that the reason he was using his phone was because his mother had the virus and he had been in contact with her. He would not deny that he had it too, the court was told.
Cabin crew were reduced to tears and pandemonium broke out among passengers.
Judge Gibbons said his crime was unbelievable while the world was in a state of fear and anxiety because of Covid-19.
He described the case as "the most exceptional of exceptional circumstances".
After touching down at Dublin Airport's Terminal 2 at 1.49pm on Wednesday, the plane was put into quarantine for an HSE inspection.
Van den Broek had been taken to Ballymun Garda Station and held overnight.
He was charged that being a person on an Aer Lingus aircraft in flight, within the jurisdiction of the State, he engaged in behaviour of a threatening, abusive or insulting nature.
Defence solicitor Michael French confirmed his client was pleading guilty.
Detective Garda Gary Dillane told the court that Van den Broek made no reply when he was charged just after 7.30pm on Wednesday.
The officer said there was an issue on board the flight "which caused hassle for cabin crew a number of times".
Cabin crew began crying and passengers overheard and it caused upset, disruption and inconvenience.
When the plane landed gardai had to be called and arrived at "a hostile situation on the aircraft".
The court heard Van den Broek thought it was a joke and wanted to have his photo taken with gardai and HSE staff.
In evidence, Van den Broek, who had no previous convictions, told the court he was sorry and wanted to clear the air with the Aer Lingus staff, who refused to accept his remorse.
Van den Broek claimed he had been trying to tell the att-endant "it was a personal call and I mentioned she could have coronavirus".
Defence solicitor Michael French pleaded for leniency citing his client's previous good record.
The judge set appeal bail in his own bond of €1,000. Legal aid was also granted.