Calgary

Drunk WestJet passenger who caused plane to reroute ordered to pay $21,000 for the fuel

The U.K. man whose "absolutely disgusting" drunken behaviour caused a WestJet flight to return to Calgary must pay the airline $21,260.68 — the cost of the wasted fuel.

David Stephen Young, 44, pleaded guilty to resisting arrest, failing to comply with safety instructions

The man whose drunken behaviour caused a WestJet plane to turn around has been fined the cost of the wasted fuel, more than $21,000. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Latest on this story: Drunk passenger who forced WestJet flight to turn around had 'moment of weakness' after 18 months of sobriety

The U.K. man whose "absolutely disgusting" drunken behaviour caused a WestJet flight to turn around and land back in Calgary must pay the airline $21,260.68 — the cost of the wasted fuel. 

David Stephen Young, 44, pleaded guilty last week to charges under the Aeronautics Act and Criminal Code of failing to comply with safety instructions and resisting arrest.

"One has to feel some sympathy for the accused but as in all criminal legislation, it is trite to say that the voice of the victim must also be heard," said provincial court Judge Brian Stevenson in delivering his sentencing decision.

The victims, Stevenson noted, include the flight crew, passengers, WestJet and its shareholders as well as the police and CBSA officers, who were also at the receiving end of Young's tirade.

Young is an alcoholic but had been sober for 18 months until Jan. 4, when he consumed about six drinks while waiting to board his flight. The U.K. resident had been visiting his mother in B.C. over the holidays and was depressed because of a death in the family and a failed marriage, according to the facts of the case presented in court last week.

Once Young boarded a flight in Calgary bound for London, he became belligerent with flight crew and a fellow passenger, and repeatedly tried to get up during take-off to use the washroom.

About an hour into Young's abusive behaviour, the decision was made to turn the plane around.

The pilot had to burn off and then dump 20,000 pounds of fuel in order to land safely, according to the facts of the case, read aloud in court last week by prosecutor Lori Ibrus.

Ibrus had requested a $65,000 restitution order but Stevenson said he didn't want the court-ordered payment to bankrupt Young.

WestJet's total losses — which include the cost of the fuel and compensation for its passengers — could be more than $200,000.

Week behind bars

In a written statement read by his lawyer last week, Young apologized for his behaviour and for the "damage and inconvenience" he caused to his fellow travellers. 

Defence lawyer Michelle Parhar had sought a $5,000 to $8,000 restitution order for her client.

Young also spent one week at the Calgary Remand Centre before he was released on bail.

It will be very difficult for Young to ever enter Canada again, said Parhar.

Once Young returns to the U.K., "he's essentially barred from entering Canada, barred from seeing his mother in B.C.," said Parhar.

Stevenson noted WestJet could make a civil claim against Young if it wanted to try to recover more of its losses.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.

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