Times caption: Mary Roberts and Henrietta Mitaire gave thanks to God outside court (SWNS)
A piece in yesterday’s Times:
A mother who bit and scratched an airline pilot on the floor of a cockpit in a row over her three-year-old’s buggy has been spared jail.
Henrietta Mitaire, 23, and her mother, Mary Roberts, 53, were on trial accused of attacking Guido Keel, a Swiss Air captain, after the aircraft landed at Heathrow from Zurich on May 2 last year.
Mitaire was found guilty of an assault that left Mr Keel’s shirt covered in blood. Her mother, Ms Roberts, who was accused of kicking him while he was on the floor of the plane, was cleared of assault after a trial at Uxbridge magistrates’ court.
Mitaire was given a four-month suspended sentence. She said yesterday that she would appeal because “the idea that a mother is acquitted for defending her child and the child that she was trying to defend is not acquitted is lunatic”.
When Ms Roberts, from Fulham, southwest London, was asked to leave the dock following her acquittal, she stood up to say: “Adolf Hitler is still ruling England and Mussolini is still ruling England and the innocent.” She was then dragged out of the court by a police officer.
Mitaire had claimed that she was denied permission to take the buggy on board because she was a black woman and “Swiss people are racist”.
The court heard that the row began in Zurich when airport staff told Mitaire that the buggy must be put in the hold. Mitaire eventually agreed and she and her mother went to their seats.
When the plane landed at Heathrow, Mitaire approached the flight manager, Ali Chkerdaa, asking for the names of two women at the departure gate that she had argued with so she could make a formal complaint to the airline.
He offered his business card instead because they worked for a different company. Mr Keel left the cockpit to offer his own business card when Mitaire refused to accept Mr Chkerdaa’s but she refused that too, so he put his hand on her arm to gesture her off the aircraft.
Mitaire pulled out her phone to start filming, asking: “Why did you lay your hands on me? Where is the power?”
“I have the power,” he replied, but fell back into the cockpit as he and Mitaire tussled on the floor.
She scratched his neck and bit his arm. Ms Roberts tried to get into the cockpit but was held back. The pair were led away by police officers.
Delivering her verdicts, Judge Deborah Wright said that Mitaire was “very upset” about not being allowed to take the buggy on board.
She continued that the captain’s decision to touch her arm may have been “unwise” [J4MB: Why?] but “Ms Mitaire’s reaction was wholly disproportionate.
“The video footage is a testament to her anger and determination to continue to escalate a situation.”
Mitaire, from South Kensington, west London, denied assault, claiming she was acting in self-defence but this was rejected by the judge.
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