Smoking on plane was costly

Smoking on an airplane cost David Edgar White $500 and a night in custody at the George Town Police Station.

White, an American citizen, was scheduled to leave Cayman aboard a Cayman Airways flight to Miami on Sunday, 9 March.

Instead, he was brought to Summary Court around noon on Monday. Crown Counsel Tonya Lobban told Magistrate Nova Hall police were hoping the matter could be dealt with quickly so that White could be put on a flight later that day.

Details of the charge were that White smoked in a rear restroom of a Cayman Airways aircraft at a time when smoking in that compartment was prohibited by a notice exhibited there.

White, 56, pleaded guilty with explanation.

Ms Lobban said White boarded the aircraft at 12.50pm. After finding his seat, he went to a restroom with a partly-burnt cigarette which he had behind his ear. He lit the cigarette and an alarm went off.

When he opened the restroom door, the strong smell of cigarettes smoke filled the plane, causing an allergic reaction to a female passenger. An attendant had to open a rear door for her to get fresh air.

White was escorted from the plane by security officers, who notified the George Town Police Station. Police arrested White, cautioned him and took him to the station, where he was booked in at 1.30pm.

The magistrate was interested in the timing because she wanted to know how long White had spent in custody.

Asked for his explanation, White said he certainly wouldn’t deliberately smoke on an airplane. He had gone to the bathroom and was fixing his hair when he realised he had the cigarette. He saw an ashtray and it said ‘dispose of cigarette here’. ‘I lit the cigarette, took a couple of puffs and disposed of it,’ he told the court.

White said he hadn’t travelled much recently. Years ago he travelled a lot and it was OK to smoke on planes. He accepted that what he did was stupid – a silly mistake.

The magistrate said she didn’t think there was an airline anywhere that allows smoking now.

The charge of smoking on an aircraft was brought under a section of the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order, 2001.

In setting the fine, the magistrate said she was taking into account the fact that he had spent time in custody. She commended authorities for processing the matter quickly so that White could be dealt with that day.

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