Smokers in general, much like the vast majority of the population of the UK are law abiding and obey laws. But, as always there is always the exception to the rule and 46 year old John Cox from Kidderminster believed that the law applied to everyone but himself, that is where he got it wrong and found out to his cost.
Any of us who have flown on commercial aircraft in the last few years must know that they are non-smoking and that means anywhere on the aircraft. We are warned that smoking in the toilet is not only forbidden, it can be dangerous and the detectors will react if someone decides to light up.
Well not only did Cox decide that it did not apply to him, he actually threw a lit cigarette into the aircraft, toilet waste bin causing it to catch fire. The Monarch Airbus was flying at 33,000 feet at the time, and destined for Sharm el Sheik; the incident caused the aircraft captain to issue a mayday call and he considered an emergency landing when the crew struggled to extinguish the resulting fire.
This was not the first time that a smoke detector had gone off, although it was in another toilet and the fire was put out by the crew. The captain then issued a strongly worded warning about the ‘moronic’ conduct of smoking on board, only for it to happen a few hours later. On arrival in Egypt Cox was detained later to be arrested on his return to the UK.
Once again alcohol was involved, during the court case it was revealed that Cox had been drinking before and during the flight, and was abusive and aggressive to other passengers and the crew, the captain, who had flown for Monarch for 20 years, said he had never experienced an incident with so much potential danger. Also Lady Justice Sharp said: ‘The level of culpability and potential for harm is at the highest level.
Cox pleaded guilty to arson and being reckless as to whether life was endangered and was jailed for four years and six months at Birmingham Crown Court in January. However, an appeal was lodged and the Court of Appeal has ruled the sentence was too lenient and jailed Cox for nine years and six months. Will he get the message now we wonder?