A New Zealand man’s mid-air dummy spit over a passenger’s reclined seat has cost him a $600 fine and a lecture from a magistrate.
Shane Mathew Diedrichs was fined in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Thursday for offensive and disorderly behaviour aboard a flight from Wellington to Brisbane last November.
The court heard the 38-year-old took umbrage when the man in front reclined his seat shortly after take-off and refused to move it forward again.
Commonwealth prosecutor Rebecca Blaszczyk said witnesses reported Diedrichs became agitated and began pushing, kicking and kneeing the man’s seat, making “violent gestures”, and speaking in an aggression tone.
Diedrichs, a roofer, arranged to move seats but not before forcefully striking the reclining passenger’s headrest and later returning to verbally abuse him.
Ms Blaszczyk said the male passenger reported suffering whiplash injuries from the blow to his headrest.
Diedrich was genuinely embarrassed, according to his lawyer, who said the outburst was caused by the stress of not receiving payment for some work he’d completed.
Nevertheless Magistrate Bronwyn Springer imposed a $600 fine and told Diedrich he was lucky he wasn’t facing an assault charge.
“Being in an aircraft, it is a confined space, it can get out of control,” she warned. “People’s emotions have to be kept in check.”
Outside court, Diedrichs said he regretted the incident but only became angry when the other passenger responded rudely to him.
“It’s a short flight, no one reclines their seat between here and New Zealand,” he said.
“I did ask nicely and it was the response I got, that’s what fired me up.
“I’m not a violent person, I’m not an angry person, it was just bad timing.”