By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Two American brothers convicted and jailed for an air rage incident on an Aer Lingus Newark-Shannon flight last week have had their custodial sentences lifted after an appeal to Ennis Circuit Court, but the duo are to be expelled from the country.
Aer Lingus takes a hard line on air rage incidents and bans passengers for life, but the airline has agreed to carry the two brothers under a deportation order.
Four Gardai will accompany the men on the flight.
Brothers Stephen and Brian Jones, both from New York, who are of Irish extraction, pleaded guilty on April 25 to engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting behavior on the Aer Lingus flight.
Stephen, 39, from Yonkers, was given the maximum jail term of four months and a maximum fine of £700.
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Brian, 38, from Hopewell Junction, was jailed for three months and fined £500.
The brothers, who had been due to start an Irish holiday, were both released on April 27 after relatives lodged the £1,000 bail for each of them and they handed in their passports.
Appealing the severity of their sentences, both brothers said they were extremely apologetic and embarrassed by the incident.
Circuit Court judge Sean O Laoghaire described their behavior as outrageous, intolerable and a disgusting performance.
Stephen said he had fought for three years for sole custody of his son, which he would lose if he was jailed. The judge altered the sentence to two months and suspended it for a year while confirming the £700 fine.
Brian, a landscape gardener, said a custodial sentence would mean he would lose his job and where he lived. The judge decided the three-month sentence was inappropriate but the £500 fine remained.
Last week, Aer Lingus cabin manager Michael Duncan, told Ennis District Court the brothers first came to his attention when passengers were boarding and Brian Jones told him he was wearing shorts in case the aircraft crashed into the sea.
Both men had walked down the aisle 30 seconds before takeoff and had to be escorted back to their seats where a bag containing beer and ice was discovered.
Shortly afterward, other passengers complained they were being verbally abusive and they were asked to moderate their language because of females and children nearby. One woman was called a "fat whale" by one of the brothers.
Duncan said one of the brothers had told a member of the cabin crew that he knew the passengers making the complaints and would get them in Shannon.
Duncan said that 90 minutes before touchdown a man seated behind the brothers had approached him and told him he feared for the safety of his mother and cousin. He then radioed ahead to alert the authorities in Shannon.