Delta pilot jailed for being drunk while trying to fly plane to New York

A 63-year-old pilot was convicted by a US court for reporting on duty while being under the influence of alcohol.

According to a report by The Guardian, Captain Lawrence Russell Junior, a Delta Airlines pilot, was caught with two bottles of alcohol in his hand luggage, one of which was half empty, during a bag search at Edinburgh airport in June 2023.

After the recovery of the alcohol bottles, Captain Russell Junior was arrested and his test showed 49mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, which was more than twice the permissible limits in the US.

Russell was sentenced at Edinburgh sheriff court on Tuesday, March 13, after pleading guilty to reporting on duty drunk.

While awarding a ten-month imprisonment to the airline pilot, Judge Alison Stirling said the sentence had to be imposed for “punishment [and the] protection of the public”.

He also noted that the accused was earlier also convicted twice for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Captain Russell was rostered to fly the Boeing 767 plane from Edinburgh to New York’s JFK airport early on 16 June 2023, when he was arrested by the police.

During the court hearing, he pleaded guilty and accepted that he was the owner of the alcohol bottles and was drunk.

Defence advocate, Pamela Rodgers, said that her “remorseful” client was a recovering alcoholic who had not drunk alcohol for 277 days and had completed the 12 steps of a recovery rehabilitation programme.

Responding to the conviction, procurator Lynne Barrie said, “Lawrence Russell’s conduct would have endangered many lives; the consequences could have been catastrophic,” as per The Guardian report.

“He showed a reckless disregard for the safety of his passengers and crew. The pilot of a commercial aircraft holds the lives of hundreds in his hands. He would have put all of them at serious risk,” he was quoted as saying on the matter by The Guardian.

“This conviction should send the message that crimes of this nature will be robustly dealt with,” he added.

Published By:

Sudeep Lavania

Published On:

Mar 20, 2024

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