Drunken passenger guilty of assault

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Patrick Walters

A drunk airline passenger who tackled a Qantas flight attendant when she tried to stop him recording her on his mobile phone was found guilty of assault yesterday.

Cabin crew member Karen Dwyer was left shaken and in pain after Patrick Walters, 48, “bodyslammed” her into the plane’s galley during preparations for a flight from Port Hedland to Brisbane in April last year.

Walters spent the past three days on trial in the District Court charged with unlawfully assaulting a cabin crew member so as to interfere with the performance of their functions or duties connected with the operation of an aircraft.

The jury was told Walters was allocated an exit row seat but was told he needed to sit elsewhere because he was intoxicated.

Ms Dwyer was finding Walters a new seat and dealing with another drunk passenger who was told he could not fly when Walters started to record the interaction.

Walters ignored Ms Dwyer’s requests to stop recording and when she reached for his phone, he tackled her, pushing her into the galley. He claimed during the trial his filming did not interfere with Ms Dwyer’s duties, saying she was on a “personal mission” to stop herself from being recorded.

It was also argued that Ms Dwyer had no right to touch Walters’ personal property and he was entitled to stop her taking it.

However, after deliberating for about two hours yesterday, the jury convicted him of the charge.

Walters was granted bail ahead of his sentencing hearing tomorrow. Judge Bruce Goetze warned that “all options are open, including imprisonment”.