Court Quashes Conviction For Airline Incident

August 21, 2018

A man has successfully appealed his conviction for using threatening words and disorderly behaviour on an airline, arguing that a “Bermuda Court lacked jurisdiction” and was “incapable of proving that the conduct complained occurred in Bermuda.”

Helder Paulo Vieira filed the appeal, and the Court ruled, “The appeal is accordingly allowed and the conviction on Count #2 is quashed.”

The ruling stated that Mr Vieira was aboard an aircraft destined for Bermuda from England and “having consumed a mix of alcoholic beverages, he was verbally abusive and aggressive” and “some of the expletives reported to have been uttered by the Appellant included ‘Act like a f****** dog’.”

“The Crown did not present any evidence before the Court to prove that any relevant part of the Appellant’s offensive conduct occurred in Bermuda and there was no evidence before the Court to suggest that the aircraft concerned was registered in Bermuda. For these reasons, the conviction is unsafe,” the ruling stated.

Court Bermuda TC August 21 2018

The ruling said, “The Appellant was convicted in the Magistrates’ Court upon his guilty plea to Count 2 of Information 18CR00001.

“Count 2 was pleaded in the following terms: ‘On the 31st day of December 2017, in international territorial waters, used threatening, abusive, insulting words and disorderly behaviour towards crew members of British Airways flight #BA2233, contrary to Article 68 of the Air Navigation [Overseas Territories] Order 2001.

“The Appellant now appeals on the basis that the section under which he was convicted does not constitute a criminal offence in Bermuda.

“The Prosecution is agreed in principle with the Appellant’s complaint but initially submitted that this Court can instead substitute a conviction under Article 181[b] of the Air Navigation [Overseas Territories] Order 2013.

“The Appellant was aboard an aircraft destined for Bermuda from London, England. Having consumed a mix of alcoholic beverages, he was verbally abusive and aggressive towards not only cabin staff but also towards other passengers who were travelling with an infant.

“Some of the expletives reported to have been uttered by the Appellant included ‘Act like a f****** dog’ and ‘You are all f****** back taking our jobs!’  When the Appellant was further intercepted and issued a Captain’s Violation Notice for having disturbed a female passenger by the lavatories, he stated ‘That’s fine, I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure this plane diverts and report it to my solicitor in the morning!’ and further told the Complainant; ‘F*** off you wanker!’

“The Appellant argues that a Bermuda Court lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter as the Crown is and was incapable of proving that the conduct complained occurred in Bermuda.”

The appellant’s lawyer Peter Sanderson cited Article 2 of the Bermuda [Territorial Sea] Order in Council 1988 which provides: “The boundaries of Bermuda are hereby extended to include, as territorial sea, that part of the sea which is situated within twelve nautical miles measured from the baselines as established by Article 3 of this Order, together with the seabed of the territorial sea and its subsoil.”

“The Crown did not present any evidence before the Court to prove that any relevant part of the Appellant’s offensive conduct occurred in Bermuda and there was no evidence before the Court to suggest that the aircraft concerned was registered in Bermuda.

“For these reasons, the conviction is unsafe,” the ruling stated. “The appeal is accordingly allowed and the conviction on Count #2 is quashed.”

The full judgment follows below [PDF here]:

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