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Bermudian wins air rage appeal

A Bermudian man fined after he unleashed a torrent of abuse at aircrew and a family on a flight to the island has had his conviction overturned.

Peter Sanderson, counsel for Helder Viera, argued that his client could not be convicted in Bermuda as there was no proof the offence happened inside the island’s jurisdiction.

Puisne Judge Shade Subair found that under the legislation, the offence had to happen in Bermuda or on a Bermuda-registered aircraft to secure a conviction.

Mrs Justice Subair said in a written judgment: “Regrettably, the learned magistrate was never addressed on this jurisdiction issue.

“The Crown, having brought the charges before the court, clearly did so under a misguided notion that it was well placed to do so.

“Further, the appellant was not represented by Mr Sanderson in the Magistrates’ Court when he entered his guilty plea.”

The judge added: “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.”

Mr Viera, 53, of Pembroke, was arrested on December 31 last year after an incident on board a British Airways flight from London.

Magistrates’ Court later heard he began to hurl obscenities at a young family with an infant about two hours into the flight.

Mr Viera was warned by cabin crew to calm down.

Mr Viera said: “You are all f***ing back taking our jobs.”

He was told that he would not be served any more alcohol and was later issued a captain’s violation notice.

Mr Viera told cabin crew: “That’s fine. I will do whatever it takes to make this plane divert and report it to my solicitor in the morning.”

He later pleaded guilty to using threatening, abusive, insulting words and threatening behaviour under the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order.

That legislation does extend to Bermuda, but Mrs Justice Subair said that offences must happen in Bermuda or over its territorial waters to be prosecuted in the island’s courts.