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Man guilty of assault during airplane ‘legroom’ row

A man has been found guilty of assault after a court heard he tried to throw a Dublin Airport security official from a Ryanair plane during a “legroom” seating row.

Sergejs Laurenouies, 38, of Ballytrasna, Ballycullane, Co Wexford, was given a six-month suspended sentence following his hearing at Dublin District Court.

Judge John Hughes also fined Laurenouies €1,000 and ordered him to pay €1,000 compensation to Dublin Airport Police officer Barry Nevin.

Judge Hughes also directed that he could not board any flight from Ireland unless sober and presented himself to airport officials four hours before departure.

Laurenouies will have to prove he has completed anger management and alcohol awareness courses and remain on supervised probation for two years.

He had denied attacking the authorised officer, Mr Nevin, on a Ryanair Dublin to Majorca flight on 22 October, 2022.

Judge Hughes noted that the flight was delayed, and the captain refused to take off when Laurenouies refused to sit away from his family group.

Laurenouies had complained that another passenger was in his booked seat.

He was offered an alternative seat but it did not have enough legroom.

The plane was “fully boarded and ready to depart” when Laurenouies became agitated, and there was a strong smell of alcohol from him.

He was asked to sit down three times before the captain intervened and refused to take off with Laurenouies on the flight.

Mr Nevin and two colleagues got on board, but Laurenouies was allegedly abusive and “attempted to throw him out the door of the plane”.

The air bridge was not present, and Mr Nevin held onto the railings, resulting in abrasions and cuts to his hands.

Laurenouies denied attacking them and claimed he suffered two broken arms and had to wear a cast as a result of being hurt during his arrest.

However the court heard he was seen by a doctor when taken to a garda station and he did not provide medical evidence to support his claim.

Convicting him of the assault, Judge Hughes said he did not accept his evidence.

He described the incident as serious, adding that travel was stressful at the best of times and Laurenouies’s holiday plans turned into a nightmare.

Prosecuting Garda Emmet O’Byrne said the accused spent most of the night of his arrest in station custody after repeatedly refusing to sign a bail bond.

The Latvian national had lived and worked in Ireland for 20 years and had no prior criminal convictions.

Following legal submissions from defence solicitor Michael French, the accused was cleared of a connected charge for being intoxicated to the extent he was a danger to himself and others on the plane.

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