Nunavut court decision lets unruly air passenger get off with a fine

Darren Edward Cosby, 39, must also reimburse $13,875 to Air Transat


Darren Edward Cosby, 39, in green, with his head bowed, enters the Nunavut Court of Justice April 4 in Iqaluit. (PHOTO BY SAMANTHA DAWSON)

Darren Edward Cosby, 39, in green, with his head bowed, enters the Nunavut Court of Justice April 4 in Iqaluit. (PHOTO BY SAMANTHA DAWSON)

A man who caused an Air Transat flight from Vancouver to London to make an emergency landing March 27 in Iqaluit pleaded guilty April 4 to a charge of unruly behaviour under the Aeronautics Act.

Darren Edward Cosby, 39, also faced charges of uttering threats, causing a disturbance, and mischief. These charges were stayed April 4 at the Nunavut Court of Justice.

Two justices of the peace, John Vander Velde, and Laurie Anne White, ordered Cosby to pay a fine of $2,000 and reimburse Air Transat for approximately $13,875.

Cosby was given credit for the nine days he spent in jail.

Since March 27, Cosby, who did not speak during his sentencing, has remained in police custody, in police cells.

Police arrested Cosby after the Air Transat flight landed in Iqaluit during the early hours of March 27.

Cosby, an ironworker from the United Kingdom who works in Vancouver, had been on his way home to the U.K. to propose to his girlfriend and see his six children and five grandchildren, defense lawyer Patrick Bruce told the court.

That was before he alarmed 342 passengers and airplane crew members on board the flight by “yelling, swearing and being aggressive,” Crown prosecutor Amy Porteous said.

Cosby was intoxicated — but not by alcohol provided by Air Transat, Porteous said.

After the crew members started having a difficult time with him, they brought Cosby to the back of the aircraft where he “continued to be aggressive.”

Cosby damaged a mirror and punched a coffee maker before being restrained by eight or nine male crew members and passengers.

He had been warned by a flight attendant that the plane might have to be diverted and was put into plastic “wrist restraints.”

“He managed to get out of them… twice,” Porteous said.

With the crew fearful that the situation would continue to spiral, nine men kept trying to restrain Cosby and “calm him down.”

However, Cosby grabbed a male flight attendant by the throat, releasing him quickly and saying he was joking.

Cosby was kept restrained, in a headlock, for over an hour.

“He was spitting [salvia and blood] on those who restrained him,” Porteous said.

Cosby expressed concern about one of the plastic hand cuffs. When a steward tried to cut him out of them, Cosby lunged at him and bent back the thumb of one of the men who was restraining him.

He said he would “slit their throats,” and “send their genitals to their mothers.”

Cosby also said to the people holding him back that he would “have sex with them” called the flight attendants “those bitch stewardesses” while thrusting his pelvis at them, saying he would kill them.

He also said that “Welsh men should be slaughtered” while warning people that he was going to attack them.

Cosby bit those holding him, before one of the people holding him down punched him in the head.

“With this going on in a closed space… this caused a great deal of chaos on the plane,” Porteous said.

Small children were upset and the situation “gave rise to a sense of fear in the passengers,” which was justifiable, she said.

“The passengers are truly a captive audience,” Porteous added.

However, Cosby, who has about six months left on his Canadian work visa, acted “completely out of character” on the Air Transat flight, Bruce said.

He doesn’t remember any of the events that took place, he said.

“He’s a family man,” Bruce told the court, saying that reimbursing the airline would be fair without Cosby paying the $2,000 fine.

Cosby, who has no previous criminal record, wants to write a letter of apology to all of the crew members on board, his defence lawyer said.

He was excited to be going home and is a nervous flyer.

Bruce called the episode a “misguided attempt to calm himself down.”

The entire debacle has had a “profound effect on Mr. Cosby’s life,” Bruce said.

A conviction under the Aeronautics Act can result in fines of up to $100,000 or a five-year jail sentence.

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