Thu, Jan 26, 2006 - Page 5 News List

`Berserk' British attache cleared of drunk flying charges

STRESSED OUT The 51-year-old had allegedly drunk wine, port and whisky and then launched into an anti-Thai tirade on a flight back to London


A British military attache accused of going berserk on a plane as he returned from dealing with the aftermath of the Asian tsunami disaster was cleared on Tuesday of the charge of being drunk on an aircraft.

Colonel Peter Roberts, the former defense attache in Thailand, had been on trial for allegedly launching a series of foul-mouthed tirades and threatening to kill passengers and crew at 10,668m.

The 51-year-old was said to have lost control in business class after drinking wine, port and whisky on an Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, to London Heathrow on Feb. 17 last year.

At one point the Thai speaker was said to have yelled about Thailand: "Fuck this country, fuck the King, fuck Buddha." He was eventually restrained by having his hands and feet bound, Isleworth Crown Court in west London was told.

Roberts, a father of three, had been involved in trying to identify British victims of the Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami and was traveling to London to brief Ministry of Defense and Foreign Office colleagues on the disaster.

The former army helicopter pilot told the jury he had been suffering from stress following the tsunami and had accidentally taken too much of the anti-depressant drug Seroxat, which he had been prescribed. He also said he had no recollection of his behavior on the flight.

Speaking outside court, Roberts' lawyer, Look Chih Wang, told reporters that Roberts was found not guilty because he was not drunk. Instead, his behavior was due to "a temporary abnormality of function caused by long-term chronic stress, tsunami-related post-traumatic stress, sleep deprivation and a combination of the anti-depressant Seroxat and alcohol."

"Colonel Roberts ... wishes to apologize to all those who were affected by his behavior and offended by his remarks," Look said. "[He] would like to state categorically that the alleged remarks in no way are representative of his views or beliefs."

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