Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

Luke TAYLOR - Aviation safety

Year: 
2017-2018
Category: 
Safety
Location: 
Western Australia

On 13 March 2018, 39-year-old Luke Taylor was fined $10,500 in the Perth District Court after his aggressive behaviour on a Qantas flight from Perth to Brisbane in July last year forced the plane, carrying 212 passengers, to turnaround. The Court further made a Reparation Order payable to Qantas in the sum of $15,207, being the cost to return the flight to Perth and the delay.

Mr Taylor started acting aggressively toward the crew after they confiscated a hip flask of bourbon he was drinking. He repeatedly ignored flight crew who had told him it was prohibited to drink alcohol that wasn’t supplied by the airline.

In spite of the best efforts by the crew and the Customer Service Manager to placate Mr Taylor, he would not stay seated and went to the galley at the rear of the aircraft where the four cabin crew had gathered. There he became physically aggressive towards the crew, before clenching his fist and threatening to ‘knock’ a male crew member into a wall, after he tried to intervene.

After Mr Taylor was coerced back to his seat, the crew spoke to the pilot and the decision was made to turn the plane back to Perth.

When Australian Federal Police officers boarded the plane on landing, Mr Taylor resisted arrest and had to be handcuffed and forced into the terminal.

In sentencing, Judge Bruce Goetze said the gravity and seriousness of the offending is reflected in the maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and/or fine of $126,000. Mr Taylor’s conduct disrupted everybody on board the flight and caused a lot of inconvenience to a lot of people. His Honour noted crew members have a difficult job, they have serious duties to perform and the offender’s conduct impacted on those duties. The offender’s conduct put the crew and passengers’ safety at risk and regard must be had to the seriousness of the risk created by the Offender’s conduct. The offending clearly had a significant impact on both crew members, as outlined in their respective victim impact statements. His Honour commented that penalties must deter others who may be tempted to engage in similar behaviour.

Charges/sentence

On 13 March 2018, Luke Taylor was fined $10,500 and a Reparation Order was made payable to Qantas in the sum of $15,207, in relation to:

  • Two counts of threatening to assault, threaten with violence or intimidate a member of a Division 3 aircraft crew, contrary to section 20A of the Crimes (Aviation) Act 1991 (Cth).
  • One count of threatening to obstruct, hinder and resist a Commonwealth public official in the performance of his duties, contrary to section 149.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).
  • One count of behaving in an offensive or disorderly manner on an aircraft, contrary to regulation 256AA(1) of the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 (Cth) [by way of section 16BA Notice]