NI: American accused of endangering aircraft found not guilty

A man accused of endangering an aircraft after being refused pre-flight snacks has been found not guilty at Antrim Crown Court.

American man Jeremiah Thede, 42, was arrested in June 2015 after his United Airlines flight from Italy to the US was diverted to Belfast International Airport.

Flight attendants said they were worried by Mr Thede’s behaviour after a request for crackers was declined.

Solicitor Patrick Madden of Madden & Finucane Solicitors, acting for Mr Thede, said: “Mr Thede was acquitted by unanimous verdict after just thirty minutes of deliberations. He is relieved to have his name cleared after being held in this jurisdiction for ten months. His passport has now been returned and he looks forward to returning home to his family and friends in California.

“This was an unusual but important case because the prosecution case and the decision to divert the flight was based on misinterpretations and inaccurate statements from the cabin crew.

“Mr Thede was nothing other than courteous and polite when making his complaint to cabin crew. There was simply no credible evidence that he endangered the aircraft or that he acted in a way that was likely to endanger the aircraft.

“We hope the airline will now reflect on the way it deals with customer complaints in the future.

“We are now considering legal proceedings against United Airlines with a view to compensating our client.”

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