B'lore-UK flight sex romp accused off the hook

B'lore-UK flight sex romp accused off the hook

Clare Irby, a descendant of the Guinness brewing family, denied drinking up to 10 glasses of wine from Bangalore to Heathrow on 26 March and claimed she was not drunk but “a bit relaxed” and “really, really tired” after getting very little sleep.

Isleworth crown court heard that Irby was travelling with her two-year-old son on Kingfisher Airlines, owned by the beer magnate Vijay Mallya, when she struck up a rapport with Daniel Melia, 36, a passenger who sat behind her. The jury of eight men and four women heard the pair flirted, kissed and at one point Melia, who was not on trial, was said to have touched her breasts, a claim denied by Irby.

‘Shirt off’

A flight attendant, Shivaneji Sharma, said Irby, 30, of Fulham, west London, had three to four glasses of wine in the first 90 minutes of the flight and at one point took off her skirt, revealing her G-string, before changing into leggings.

Arpita Mehra, another flight attendant, said Irby “was not in a state that she could take care of her child” who was “crying in the cabin. She was busy with the guest sitting behind her. The man was leaning forward and grabbing hold of her breast and they were kissing each other.”

About four hours into the flight, the plane’s captain, Vivek Sondhi, walked through the cabin and noticed the pair were drunk because they asked him to join them for a drink, which he found “very unusual”.

“They were kind of sprawled in the seats.”

He then asked his crew to stop serving them alcohol. Irby admitted to being “not as polite as I usually am” with cabin crew. The jury heard that she had put her hand into the face of a female flight attendant and called another a “bitch”.

Irby blamed her two-year-old son for her repeatedly pressing the attendant call button, saying she needed soft drinks for him. “I personally feel sorry for people who sit by me because I know I’m louder than the average person because I have a child who I care for and have to make sure he behaves as well as he can,” she said.

Judge John Denniss told the jurors they had to decide whether Irby was drunk on an aircraft while in the “territorial jurisdiction” of the United Kingdom. This started about 20 minutes before the 10½- hour flight landed at Heathrow. She was served no alcohol for the last six and half hours of the flight.

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