Cape Breton family accused of unruly behaviour aboard flight returning home
Published Tuesday, February 5, 2013 6:44PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 5, 2013 6:48PM EST
Members of a Cape Breton family who were charged with unruly behaviour on a flight to the Dominican Republic are on their way home, where residents are calling the incident “the talk of the town.”
David MacNeil, 54, his wife Darlene, 52, and their 22-year-old son David Jr. faced various charges for allegedly smoking and acting in a disorderly manner aboard their Sunwing flight from Halifax to the Punta Cana.
The plane was forced to make an unscheduled stopover in Bermuda, delaying the vacations of the other passengers -- and delaying the return flight to Canada of those waiting in the Dominican Republic.
A 16-year-old boy, believed to be the couple’s younger son, was not charged in relation to the incident.
The elder MacNeils were expected to each pay a $500 fine.
The headline-making incident has sent tongues wagging in their tiny home community of Mabou, where neighbours closely followed news of the case.
“It’s very surprising,” Phyllis MacDonald told CTV Atlantic. “I listened intently when I heard ‘Mabou.’”
Neighbour Gordon MacIsaac called the incident, “The talk of the town.”
David Sr. pleaded guilty to behaving in a disorderly manner, while his wife pleaded guilty to disobeying the commands of a flight crew. David Jr. was charged with smoking on board the aircraft, but that charge was dismissed.
During a court appearance in Bermuda on Monday, prosecutors alleged the family argued with the flight crew over their attempts to use the bathroom while the seatbelt sign was still on after takeoff. The crew also suspected they had been smoking later in the flight.
Sunwing Vacations has said it plans to take legal action against the family to recoup the estimated $50,000 cost of the stopover. That included flying down a company mechanic to inspect the plane, which had to land overloaded with fuel, as well as the cost of putting up travellers in Bermuda, as well as those who had been scheduled to make the return flight from the Dominican Republic.
Sunwing is also offering the passengers who lost a day of their vacation due to the stopover a $150 credit for a future trip.
MacDonald said she hopes that the incident, which has garnered national attention, does not paint the entire community in a negative light.
“It’s one incident,” she said.
With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald