Blue star Lee Ryan has been handed a 12-month suspended prison sentence at Isleworth Crown Court for racially aggravated common assault by beating and behaving in an abusive way towards a cabin crew member.
The singer, 40, was “slurring his words and staggering around” after drinking a whole bottle of port before a British Airways flight from Glasgow to London City Airport on July 31 last year.
He had earlier pleaded guilty to being drunk on an aircraft, for which he was handed a four-month jail term, suspended, to run concurrently.
After being refused more alcohol on the plane and told to return to his seat, Ryan made comments about flight attendant Leah Gordon’s looks, calling her a “chocolate cookie” before grabbing her wrists.
As he sentenced the singer, Judge Nicholas Wood said that while the incident only lasted 10 or 15 minutes, “it seemed like a lifetime for everybody on that plane”.
He ordered the singer to pay £2,500 compensation to Ms Gordon, £750 to Jade Smith, another member of the cabin crew, and £510 in costs.
The judge said that while some of the language used by Ryan was commonplace in the “entertainment industry”, it had “no place on an aircraft, being directed at cabin crew”.
Having seen psychological assessments of Ryan, and heard he has high functioning autistic spectrum disorder, Judge Wood concluded he did not pose an ongoing risk to the public.
Ryan paced backwards and forwards around the dock before the sentencing hearing began on Thursday, and covered his head with a jacket as he entered the court.
At a previous court hearing, Ms Gordon said Ryan initially called her “beautiful” and put his sunglasses on her face.
She said: “He was making comments about my complexion, you’re my chocolate darling, my chocolate cookie, and I’m going to have your chocolate children.”
She went on: “It felt like he was saying I was beautiful for a black person because of the way he was describing my colour.”
Ms Gordon said Ryan later approached her from behind, saying: “Before I get off this plane I need a kiss from you.”
After telling him to “stay away”, she said he grabbed both her wrists before passengers intervened.
Ms Gordon told the court: “He said to me ‘I want your chocolate children.’”
She added: “I was intimidated, I felt a bit embarrassed like I wasn’t doing my duty properly.
“To get comments about my colour whether intentional or not, it was just unacceptable and so derogatory.”
Ryan confessed to drinking a whole bottle of port and eating cheese in the British Airways lounge after the flight was delayed, and said he had no memory of the incident.
At the same hearing, Jade Smith said: “He told me he had a problem, that he was being harassed by other passengers, that he was famous and asked did I know who he was.”
Ryan, who is married with two children, asked to be upgraded from economy to business class but was refused as the plane was full.
She said: “He was angry, saying he was a gold card holder and that he needed to be moved because of this.”
She noticed Ryan was “slurring his words and staggering around” and cut him off from ordering alcohol.
On July 12 this year, Ryan had a charge against him dropped over a claim he assaulted a police officer, after he successfully withdrew a guilty plea following what he claimed was “poor advice from his solicitor”.