Published on Friday, May 26, 2017

Man jailed for more than nine years after smoking on Monarch flight

A Monarch passenger who caused a fire onboard when he threw a lit cigarette into the toilet bin has been jailed for nine years and six months.

John Cox, a former soldier, was given a four-and-a-half-year sentence by Birmingham Crown Court in January, after pleading guilty to arson and being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

However, yesterday his sentence was extended after the Court of Appeal ruled the original jail term was too lenient.

Cox triggered the smoke alarm on the Monarch Airbus flight from Birmingham to Sharm el Sheikh in August 2015 after he threw the lit cigarette into the bin in the toilets, causing a fire. As cabin crew struggled to extinguish the blaze, the pilot issued a mayday call and prepared for an emergency landing.

The court heard that the crew had already used fire extinguishers and additional water to put out an earlier blaze in a different toilet earlier in the flight.

The captain then issued a warning about the 'moronic' conduct of smoking on board - before Cox caused the second incident a few hours later.

With the help of a fire safety officer who happened to be onboard, the crew eventually managed to extinguish the fire caused by Cox, who was detained by Egyptian authorities when the plane landed and arrested on his return to the UK.

The court heard he had been drinking before and during the flight, and was abusive and aggressive to other passengers and the crew.

As she extended his sentence, Lady Justice Sharp said: "The level of culpability and potential for harm is at the highest level.

"To throw a cigarette butt into a wastepaper bin without ensuring it is extinguished would show a high degree of recklessness.

"On an aircraft at 33,000 feet, the conduct comes perilously close to deliberate fire-setting."

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