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Boxers pin passenger in mid-air scare

Paul O'Mahony · 5 Nov 2009, 17:07

Published: 05 Nov 2009 17:07 GMT+01:00

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As cabin crew struggled to get to grips with the drunken passenger, who suffers from a fear of flying, Latvian heavyweights Roman Dabolins and Alexejs Kosobokovs intervened to prevent the precarious situation from spiralling out of control.

"We were flying to a boxing tournament at the time," Dabolins told The Local on the phone from Riga.

The 33-year-old Russian-speaking Latvian at the centre of the case was sentenced last month by Gothenburg District Court to eight months in prison for air traffic sabotage and violent resistance.

He was also ordered to cover Ryanair's additional fuel and administrative costs, amounting to €16,665.

But prosecutor Hans Göran Tommila is now calling for the man's sentence to be lengthened. In a submission to the Court of Appeal, he refers to a similar case that resulted in an 18-month jail term.

"In this particular case it is clear that the cabin crew had lost control of security on board and it was just a fortunate coincidence that the two boxers were able to intervene and establish control over the situation," he writes.

The case follows the passenger's attempt in June to make a mid-air exit from a Ryanair flight travelling from London Stansted to Riga. But as the plane approached southern Sweden and the crew became increasingly apprehensive, the pilot felt he had no option but to land the aircraft in Gothenburg and have the unruly passenger removed.

The Latvian, who has an address in Ireland and was travelling to Riga to meet his daughter, told the court he had a serious fear of flying. In a bid to ease his nerves, he drank a couple of beers at Stansted before starting to neck a one-litre bottle of vodka while on the plane.

He said he had a hazy memory of screaming at a stewardess about a hot dog, but remembers little of what happened next. There were however plenty of witnesses prepared to step forward and fill in the blanks.

Around twenty minutes into the flight, cabin crew became aware of a ruckus towards the rear of the aircraft. After the 33-year-old threatened to kill a female passenger upon arrival in Riga, staff ordered him to move to the front of the plane.

The situation intensified at the front of the aircraft when the passenger made repeated efforts to approach the main door. At one point, he pushed a steward out of the way and shouted, "I want to get off the plane".

The pilot testified that there was never any danger of the passenger succeeding in opening the door. But he added that there was a concern he would release the emergency slide inside the cabin, with potentially serious consequences.

Story continues below…

The situation was eventually alleviated by Dabolins and Kosobokovs, who noticed that staff on board were unable to get the man to sit down. The two boxers decided to take action and made their way to the front of the plane.

The Latvian boxers grabbed an arm each and forced their 33-year-old countryman into a seat, holding him in position until the aircraft landed in Gothenburg and police climbed aboard to arrest the man.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for two heavyweight boxers, Dabolins and Kosobokovs felt they had the situation under control, and told the court they felt the decision to land in Gothenburg had perhaps been taken too hastily.

"For me, it was not a problem," Dabolins told The Local.

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.com)

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Your comments about this article

17:37 November 5, 2009 by karex
The boxers are lucky they didn't get arrested for assault themselves.
17:58 November 5, 2009 by mkvgtired
Karex, I know you would think the boxers would be arrested for interfering with the mans personal life choice to open the plane door midair and jump out.
18:23 November 5, 2009 by Nemesis
Well done to those two boxers.

We need more people like those two boxers and for ALL prosecutors to follow how this individual prosecutor handles a case.
18:29 November 5, 2009 by karex

I guess you have trouble recognizing sarcasm.

The plane landed in Sweden, where a man was arrested for saving an old lady from being attacked... get it?
19:53 November 5, 2009 by Atlas
Give those boxers a reward or some kind of official recognition, they deserve it...
20:02 November 5, 2009 by wdwizard
I used to think that it's not possible to open a plane door while airborn. There has to be a protection mechanism. Only when pressure inside and outside is the same the door can be opened...

So, please, don't repeat such exersize. It's useless.
21:03 November 5, 2009 by mkvgtired
I was being sarcastic too. Saying that since they landed in Sweden the guy's attorney will say the boxers interfered with his personal life choice to jump out midair. We are on the same page
00:52 November 6, 2009 by Michael84
So it means there was no Air Marshal on board? and Two boxers controlled the situation!
07:24 November 6, 2009 by krow
Yeah, The cheaper the air ticket, the cheaper the trouble
07:53 November 6, 2009 by karex



You're right, it's not possible to open the cabin door in mid flight. However if while attempting to do so he had activated the inflatable emergency slide inside the plane people could get seriously hurt or even killed.

The man obviously suffered from panic syndrome, set off by his intense fear of flying. People who have experienced this phenomena - for whatever reason, know that the fear is so overwhelming that they loose control of their own actions. Most do everything to avoid situations which can trigger this reaction. And then the man was drunk to boot.

What was he thinking? Knowingly flying when he obviously is terrified of it? Next time fly your daughter over or take the train!
10:04 November 6, 2009 by peropaco
This is not the end of the story. The drunk guy will be acquitted and the good samaritans will be found guilty for trying to save lives aboard a plane. They will have to pay for the bottle of vodka and the couple beers he consumed prior to the incident. This is Sweden
11:56 November 6, 2009 by bravedave
I could be wrong but we do not really have air marshalls here in Europe.
13:29 November 6, 2009 by jack sprat
If the drunken idiot is looking at 18 months inside, under present Swedish law the two heroes should get 10 years porridge each.
14:45 November 6, 2009 by Twiceshy
That man must be given the death penalty.

Interfering with a machine is murder, especially by the flesh-beasts.
22:29 November 7, 2009 by Authentica

take it easy man
14:12 November 8, 2009 by spy

Remeber to take your medication.
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