WestlawNext Canada insight Blog

Digest of the Week — Sentencing *Very* Badly Behaved Airplane Passengers

R. v. Campbell |  (westlaw Canada)
2013 CarswellBC 630 |  (Westlaw Canada)
British Columbia Court of Appeal

Criminal law | Sentencing | Types of sentence | Absolute or conditional discharge | General principles

Two accused pleaded guilty to mischief by wilfully interrupting or interfering with lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property, contrary to s. 430 of Criminal Code — Offence occurred while accused, who were en route from Toronto to Beijing on Air Canada flight, became unruly and belligerent, yelling and swearing at passengers and crew while apparently intoxicated — Once restrained, accused became more aggressive and engaged in verbal and threatening behaviour, and decision was made to divert flight at considerable expense to carrier — Sentencing judge suspended sentence, placed accused on probation for one year, and imposed restitution order — Accused appealed sentence, asking that suspended sentence be set aside and discharge imposed instead — Appeal allowed in part on other grounds — Offence caused, at very least, significant inconvenience and distress to hundreds of people, and potentially placed hundreds of lives in danger — Fact of drinking before accused embarked on flight increased their moral culpability — Sentencing judge's emphasis on general deterrence was not error — His conclusion that accused's behaviour was "absolutely disgusting" was agreed with — Conduct of accused, whether brought on by self-induced intoxication, consumption of sleeping pills, or both, jeopardized safety of passengers and crew — Considering conduct of accused, their moral culpability, and consequences to other passengers and crew, discharge was not in public interest.
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