Sean Jude Kelly, 31, faces up to 20 years in US jail if found guilty of aggravated assault and threatening police officers
A British holidaymaker was in a Florida prison cell Tuesday facing up to 20 years in jail after allegedly spitting on crew members and threatening fights with other passengers on a flight back to London.
Sean Jude Kelly, 31, was charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence after the captain of the British Airways flight from Cancún to Gatwick made an emergency landing in Orlando on Sunday night.
Kelly, of Chingford, Essex, drank half a bottle of vodka and became disruptive shortly after takeoff, then fought with police officers and threatened to kill one of them as they removed him from the aircraft when it was on the ground, according to his arrest report.
Once in a cell at the airport, Kelly began shadow boxing and shouted: “You’re dead, you fat fuck,” at a customs official through the door, the report continued.
Kelly, who lists himself on his Twitter page as a money broker and entertainments officer, had spent a week in Cancún, often posting photographs of beaches and alcoholic drinks on his social media feeds.
In a post before his flight to Mexico on March 31 he boasted of taking valium pills “to get through takeoff”, and in another post said he spent, “Sunday night rolled into Monday day knocking back daiquiris”.
He was being held in Orlando’s Orange County jail on Tuesday afternoon charged with aggravated assault, a second-degree felony in Florida punishable by up to 15 years in jail, and resisting arrest with violence, a third degree felony with a possible sentence of up to five years.
Bail was set at $5,300, although he was placed on an immigration hold, meaning he would be kept in custody even if he raised the money. He is expected to appear in court on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for British Airways told the Guardian that the 265 passengers aboard were delayed for more than an hour by the unscheduled landing.
“We apologise to customers for the disruption to our Cancún to London Gatwick service on April 7. The flight was diverted due to a disruptive passenger,” the airline said in a statement.
“The safety and well-being of our customers and crew is our top priority. We will not tolerate abusive behaviour.”
The spokeswoman said British Airways reserved the right to seek compensation from the passenger for the extra costs incurred by the landing in Orlando and subsequent delay.
Kelly, the arrest report said, became “irate” on board the flight and was “spitting on flight attendants and cursing while trying to pick fights with every passenger he made eye contact with.”
He was handcuffed by customs officials on arrival at Orlando International Airport at about 8pm and continued to struggle and try to kick police officers as they led him through the airport to a holding area, they said.
“Kelly was being combative, both verbally and physically, over the entire route,” said Corporal Russell Emerson, the arresting officer of the Orlando police department, in his report.
He said Kelly told Officer Cleopatra Margaritis: “I’m going to kill you,” then tried to kick her, sustaining a “small laceration above his left eye” after falling to ground when he lost his balance.
Kelly’s booking photograph, meanwhile, shows his face with a bruised and bloodied fully closed left eye.