A JUDGE has jailed a 25-year-old man for three months after hearing that he was seen allegedly masturbating beside a female passenger on board a Ryanair flight to Shannon earlier this month, writes Gordon Deegan.
At Ennis District Court on Wednesday, Judge Mary Larkin described Ioan Remi Makula’s “abuse” on board the flight as “outrageous”.
The judge Larkin added that Makula “upset the woman beside him and upset the entire plane and that can’t be tolerated”.
Sergeant Aiden Lonergan told the court that it would be alleged that Makula of 52 Fearann Ri, Doughiska, Galway was seen allegedly masturbating on the Shannon bound flight from Manchester on February 4 last.
He said that statements were taken from the captain, crew and passengers and CCTV was taken as well “and passengers were described as being very upset as a result of the incident”.
Sergeant Lonergan stated that Makula was arrested at Shannon airport and brought before a court charged in connection with the incident and has been on remand in custody since.
Makula has 51 previous convictions that are mainly road traffic but do include a previous conviction for assault causing harm in 2016 when he received a jail term of nine months.
Solicitor for Makula, Darragh Hassett told the court that his instructions from his client are that “he was on a flight and there was a female sitting beside him and he picked up the vibe that she wanted to see his penis”.
He said: “That is what he did. He said that he didn’t masturbate on the plane and he said that he had a very clear understanding from the female beside him that she wanted to see his penis.”
Mr Hassett said that Makula took out his penis on the plane and “He wants to apologise to other passengers and staff – it goes far beyond what you would call inflight entertainment.”
The solicitor added: “It was a spur of the moment thing. Mr Makula got this vibe from the female and staff came over to him immediately and he got himself right on the plane and it didn’t happen a second time.”
Mr Hassett said that Makula “is very sorry. It was totally inappropriate behaviour and he assures me that it won’t happen again.”
“Mr Makula just didn’t decide to do what he did to offend people. He said that he had indications from the lady beside him that she wanted to see his penis.”
Judge Larkin said that it is inconceivable that Makula would have such a belief.
Mr Hassett said: “What happened has happened. He can’t reverse the clock.”
He added that Makula is in custody since he was arrested and is finding it particularly difficult at the moment as he hasn’t seen his family.
Mr Hassett said that Makula, a Polish national, was educated at primary and secondary school level in Galway and has since worked as a kitchen porter.
He said: “There have been a number of involuntary admissions for this man over the years concerning mental health issues. I have spoken to him and he is quite lucid today in terms of his instructions to me. He doesn’t have issues as things stand.”
Mr Hassett said that Makula was pleading guilty to being a person on board a Ryanair flight no FR4776 from Manchester to Shannon on February 4 and engaging in behaviour of a threatening, abusive or insulting nature whether by word or gesture with intent to cause of breach of the peace of being reckless as to whether a breach of the peace might have been occasioned.
The charge is contrary to Section 2(a) of the Air Navigation and Transport Act.
Judge Larkin backdated the sentence to when Makula was first brought into custody and set recognisance in the event of an appeal to the circuit court.