Canadian Family Charged Over Airline Incident

February 4, 2013

[Updated with videos] Three people appeared in Magistrates Court this afternoon [Feb 4] in relation to the recent airline diversion, where they were charged with offences including disobeying lawful commands of the crew of an aircraft and smoking in a toilet when smoking is prohibited.

The Court heard one of the defendants used profane language towards the crew, and told them he had urinated on the floor.

The family of three — David McNeill Sr [54], Donna McNeill [52], David McNeil Jr [22] — originally appeared at the morning session, where they were represented by lawyer Victoria Pearman.

There was some discussion over jurisdiction and applicable Bermuda law, before the McNeills had their police bail extended to this afternoon.

David McNeill Sr and Donna McNeill outside Court today:

mcneils outside court

The flight — which left Canada heading to the Dominican Republic — diverted to Bermuda at approximately 9.00pm on Friday night [Feb 1].

The three McNeills were arrested by police and taken to the Airport Police Station. They were held for a few hours, and released.  

They were accompanied by a younger brother who was not involved in any of the disturbance. After their release at 2am, some of the family immediately lit up cigarettes outside the Airport Police Station.

The McNeills after they left the Airport Police Station at 2am on Saturday morning:

shots of smoking family

The McNeills came back into Court for the 2.30pm session, where the argument over jurisdiction continued with discussions pertaining to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation. At approximately 3.35pm Senior Magistrate Archie Warner ruled that Bermuda does have jurisdiction, and the case proceeded.

The Court heard that while passengers had been asked not to move, the son left his seat to go to bathroom and refused the crews orders to return to seat.

The Court also heard the father swore at the attendant and said, “”You f—- a$%#oles, I just pissed all over your floor.”

Then, according to prosecutors, Donna McNeill — the mother — started cursing at the crew. They were all told to return their seats, but did not do so and kept moving about.

Two hours into the flight the Captain decided to divert and land at Bermuda, and three members of the McNeill family were taken into custody.

The McNeills after they left the Airport Police Station at 2am on Saturday morning:

The father was charged with behaving in a disorderly manner to the crew of an aircraft, to which he pleaded guilty.

The older son was charged with smoking in a toilet when smoking is prohibited. He pleaded not guilty.

All three were charged with disobeying lawful commands of the crew of an aircraft when those commands were given in the interests of the safety of the passengers of that aircraft. The two men pleaded not guilty, while the mother pleaded guilty.

The Crown offered no evidence on the not guilty pleas and the son was discharged. No one was actually convicted of smoking on the airline.

After discussion about the maximum penalty allowed — which was discussed in the UK currency ‘pounds’ — both the parents were fined $500, with ten days in jail in default of payment. The fines are to be paid forthwith.

Lawyer Victoria Pearman asked for the return of their seized travel documents.

Update 6.03pm: Sunwing — who footed the bill for the 170 passengers who overnighted in Bermuda — said the incident could cost as much as $50,000, combining the cost of the landing fees in Bermuda, the cost of flying a mechanic to Bermuda to check the aircraft out for stress fractures because it had to land overweight and hotel/meals for passengers stuck in both Bermuda and the Dominican Republic.

Sunwing intends to seek recourse, and plans to sue the family in civil court.

Update Feb 5: Video below with Sunwing’s Daryl McWilliams speaking about the incident

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Comments (72)

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  1. .am says:

    Well that’s a classy bunch if I ever did see one.

  2. here's a thought says:

    aren’t they just charming? let’s be sure to get them right on their way…..

  3. Onlooker says:


  4. la la dy says:

    That’s nothing compared to the civil suit I am sure the airlines will file against them.

    • .am says:

      I was wondering how they could get off so slightly for inconveniencing an entire plane of passengers.

  5. Great White North says:

    They need a two-four of Blue!

    Take off eh!

  6. Come On Man!! says:

    A dysfunctional chain smoking family. LMAO!!

  7. Y)-Gurl says:

    Just gimme the light…….

  8. Um Um Like says:

    Why didn’t they just smoke in the courtroom?

  9. Who wrote the report? says:

    Must be part of the crew from Trailer Park Boys. Stay classy…

  10. SoMuchMore says:

    WOW! the pics show explain it all… they are really hungry for a smoke and prob suffer from attacks if they don’t get that puff, crazy.

    But on the other hand, smoking has been banned for years and this is the first case like this that I’ve heard of but really sad. If they needed to smoke that much they should have just drove down to Miami and stayed there that way they could smoke as much as they want.

    Good news, Bermuda did get a bit of attention and maybe some snowbirds will head our way.

  11. bermyluv says:

    The government of Bermuda should file a civil suit too. We had to spend on extra resources on overtime in order to facilitate a late arrival. We should get that back.

    • sd says:

      …they got their money,thats part of the 50,000 remember

  12. mixitup says:

    Smh…And still puffing away!

  13. These people had their 2 minutes of fame on National TV in Canada last bight and probably more tonight. They will be the laughing stock of Halifax. Most Canadians are not smokers.

  14. Nuffin but de Truth! says:

    Sunwing’s Civil Court Case will wipe the smirk off their ugly mugs!

  15. NightWolf says:

    I get the feeling they might be from West Coast British Columbia lol, I just have that feeling

    • whatever says:

      Cape Breton, actually. other coast :)

    • NightWolf says:

      Cape Breton….that explains a lot!!

      • Arlene Cameron says:

        Cape Breton is lauded as one of the most beautiful places in the world and our people the most friendly and kind. PLEASE DON’T JUDGE EVERYONE ON THE RIDICULOUS ANTICS OF ONE FAMILY.

      • Steven says:

        No matter where you go you’re going to get a$%%oles. I live not too far from these people, don’t know them personally, and I can tell you everyone in the surrounding communities are ashamed of these people. Please don’t stereotype a whole group of people just because of a few dicks.

  16. Sandgrownan says:

    Super nice eh

  17. maybe says:

    That family of puffing magic dragons should now be made to pay through their noses after all of the inconvenience and money spent to deal with this foolishness. They got to puff through their noses, now its time to pay through them. Such ignorant people that don’t seem to care about anyone else, just about their nasty smoking habit.

  18. Triangle Drifter says:

    Crazy! From Canada where laws governing smoking in public places is among the toughest in the world. This group does not have the monopoly on not having consideration for other passengers.

    For almost any flight there is always somebody who thinks that the airline flies just for them & waltzes onto the plane way after everyone else is sitting ready to go.

  19. CHECH says:

    well if i had of been on that plane, i too would sue them for missing 1 day of my all inclusive holiday.
    Where do these people live, in a cave? Do they not know that rules are ment for everyone?

    Hope Sunwing sues the pants off them.

  20. Realist says:

    Probably the most expensive over night stay in Bermuda EVER. A family addicted to smoking stogies makes the story all the more funnY!

  21. So Sad says:

    They are probably distant relatives of “Honey Boo Boo”.

  22. Family Man says:

    And I bet Air Canada will be so happy to see them at the gate for boarding their flight to Canada – NOT.

  23. Gorchester says:

    A cry for help perhaps? This family is obviously under the control of nicotine and is long past being able to think for itself. The kindest thing the courts could have done would have been to incarcerate them (at their expense) without access to cigarettes for a month. Yes, the bill might have been $10,000 but it would save them $250,000 over their lives if they managed to quit. Where’s the Bermudan compassion?

    • Bermudian Overseas says:

      There’s no such thing as “Bermudan” — do you perhaps mean Bermudian? Bermudians have a great amount of compassion, but not for dangerous, selfish, thoughtless, vile idiots such as these.

  24. sharky says:

    If the plane had landed in Cuba instead of BDA. …3 Canuks become shark bait

  25. Andrew Woodworth says:

    Cape Breton is another world too.

  26. M.P.Mountbatten JP says:

    Canadians are known the world over for this sort of behavior .

    • Nuffin but de Truth! says:

      M.P.Mountbatten JP,

      how’s it feel to look in the mirror and see an IDIOT everyday.

      • M.P.Mountbatten JP says:

        I guess you forgot about the Canadian lawyer who fraudulently tried to claim Bermuda status and the list goes on with these people . Oh , and the Mirrors program is yielding great results .

        • Bermy Gooner says:

          “these people?”

          and yet you lot complain about Branco calling people like you xenophobes?

          hypocritical xenophobes is a much better label i feel

    • Jeff says:

      Really? You’re going to stereotype 35 million people based on those idiots? If that’s how you do it, then your ignorance carries far more weight proportionallyamong the population there. Fortunately, most of us don’t make such sweeping generalizations and then demonstrate your kind of ignorance in public postings.

  27. Strange Brew says:

    The civil suit eh from the airline plus the ambulance chasing lawyer eh who files the class action suit on behalf of all the other passengers will cause them to lose they double wide an all they trucks eh. Them thur lawyers eh might even take all the ‘blue’ out of the fridge eh an all the two fours from the barn too eh.

    They won’t even be able to afford a single can of ‘blue’ down at the Legion eh.

  28. Heather says:

    Geez, first I was ashamed these were Canadian’s embarrassing our country – then I find out they are from Cape Breton! I’m ashamed beyond words. How pathetic.

  29. Clear View says:

    On the bright side, they did fill up a hotel for a night.

  30. Stella says:

    I hope the airline does follow through and sue to recoup the costs incurred by these fools. Prices go up for everyone when costs like this have to be paid and I’m sick and tired of good people suffering for the acts of selfish useless wastrels.

  31. SYTYCD says:

    When I was in Uni, I had a roommate from Cape Breton. A woman in her late 20s. She’d never been on a plane before in her life. Being from Bermy I just couldn’t fathom that.

    • Jeff says:

      Imagine that. Someone from somewhere else who’s different from you. How can that be? Perhaps she just couldn’t fathom how someone could be so incredulous about something so unimportant.

      Just because you’re the Queen of the Jetsetters doesn’t mean everyone else in the world has been on a plane, nor does having been on a plane signify anything about a person’s character, as you demonstrate so well.

  32. bang bang says:

    Nasty ass Canadians

    • Bermudian Overseas says:

      No need to be insulting to a nation for the actions of some!

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Is the name Rebecca Middleton familiar to you? Is the discraceful way in which the Bermuda judicial system handled he murder also within your memory?

      These passengers are idiots to be sure but they hold nothing to Bermuda in the deplorable behavior of our courts.

    • Bermy Gooner says:

      And yet some scream about the audacity of being characterized as being xenophobic and scream bloody racism if someone talks and generalizes you in the same manner…jokers

  33. Mr. Happy says:

    I hope that these entitled pinheads are reading these comments.

  34. Ladeej says:

    Nationality aside, the parents condoned their son’s bad behavior and set a poor example for him and his younger brother. When parents are disrespectful and encourage the same in their children, we all suffer. This kind of behavior happens all too often here in Bermuda and is part of the reason we are having so much trouble with the youth today.

  35. Bermudian Overseas says:

    Disgusting family. They should have been forced to pay the entire cost of the aircraft’s diversion; perhaps they will be sued privately.

    Additionally, they should be banned from flying on commercial airlines.

    It is noticeable how very important smoking is to them all. Truly a despicable crowd and I doubt this experience will have taught them anything.

    • Sher says:

      I don’t know why they let them off with a mere fine!! They should be made to pay every expense that involved the incident.

      Pretty tough looking family..cigarettes hanging out of the side of their mouths.

      The greatest thing that will happen is that they will be flagged and never permitted on future flights

  36. Xman says:

    Please No Jail — cost to much Money
    A Nice BIG FAT FINE: $$$$$$$$$$$ please.
    Burn There Pockets – all that Holiday Spending they have.
    Burn Them!

  37. Xman says:

    The Worlds worst Judge: Warner

  38. Bet they barely had enough to pay the fine. Looked like they were off the set of the trailer park boys. Their cheap flite from Cape Breton will turn into an expensive flite home then buy more smokes or put aside the money for the legal fees to fight a SunWing lawsuit.

  39. Captain Sensible says:

    Mind you, having to sit next to a Bermudian who brings a huge carton of greasy food onto a plane in pretty gross too.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Now THAT is classy!

    • The Truthsayer says:

      Not as bad as sitting next to a fat American/Canadian on a flight that takes up two seats because he’s had one too many Big Macs.

  40. Triangle Drifter says:

    It is not likely that the airline will recover much, if anything, from expenses incurred by these people.

    Here we have a bunch of people flying a bare bones airline headed to a destination known for very cheap vacations.

    It is not exactly the jet set sitting in those seats. The airline will win the battle but lose the war. These people most likely have no idea of the costs they are liable for, do not have the means to pay for them, & care absolutely not for their behavior.

    Best for the airline to cut its losses & move on.

  41. HSM says:

    I see this story has made the top 5 yahoo news story searches today. How embarrassing for them (but good publicity for Bermuda)!

  42. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes says:

    Perhaps there is more than one addiction plaguing this family.

    Perhaps the cigarettes are a diversion from opiates and or pharmaceutical drugs.

    The Mom and the son look pretty ‘strung out’ to me…

  43. haha says:

    tis one badass family.

  44. Legal Eagle says:

    Interesting to read the comments of some indignant/superior Bermudians–chastising Canadians over just one who may have smoked a cig on a plane! It would be humourous if it wasn’t for the lack of perspective with BDN gangs killing each other on our streets and the disgraceful way BDA handled the Middleton case! Something about glass houses and stones certainly comes to mind!!

  45. papad says:

    Thank you very much for representing our province in such a clean and meaningful manner. After following this story one can only hope that you are involved with the cost that will have far reaching effects into your future and you will nolonger be welcomed on any airline or resort. You have no respect for others and after watching the video you show little respect for each other, WELL DONE!!!!!! The majority Capers are such proud people, you are the exception Any relation to Ashley?

    • kelton says:

      There are hillbillies in Canada, clearly. I thought only Americans acted badly on vacation.

  46. Jeff says:

    Gee, thanks to all those who made sweeping generalizations based on the McNeills and tarred all Canadians with the same brush. Presumably, anyone doing the same about all Bermudians because of an intolerant, ignorant few would be equally acceptable to you.

    Perhaps you could also explain why the Bermudian justice system let these clowns off with a slap on the wrist and a dismissal of the most important charges? You wouldn’t want people to make assumptions and generalizations about Bermuda because of that now, would you?

    Fortunately, I know the ignorant are in the minority there and that most Bermudians are intelligent people.

  47. Carl says:

    What a bunch of nonsense. I sure hope that these idiots are blacklisted from all airlines so that they can’t pull a stunt like this again. Incredible!!! And just another classic example that the apple does not fall far from the tree – great video of the losers!!