An Irish football coach could face up to 20 years in prison for alleged “unruly behaviour” on a plane – including exposing himself to cabin crew in a row over the food.
Shane McInerney, 29, is said to have caused “numerous disturbances” on the Delta Airlines flight from Dublin to John F Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York.
McInerney, from Galway, is also accused of repeatedly refusing to wear a face mask and throwing a can which hit another passenger on the eight-hour journey which departed on 7 January.
He is said to have walked from his seat to complain about the food being served before pulling his pants down, exposing his buttocks to an attendant and nearby passengers.
The pilot tried to speak with McInerney who is said to have responded by telling him not to touch him.
He also put his fist close to the pilot’s face, it is alleged.
McInerney is further accused of refusing to stay in his seat as the plane made its descent to JFK – instead choosing to stand in the aisle.
He was taken into custody after the plane landed.
Legal papers filed in New York said: “During the approximately eight-hour flight, the defendant repeatedly refused to wear a face mask despite being asked dozens of times by flight crew personnel.”
He has been charged with interfering with flight crew – a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.
In his Instagram profile McInerney describes himself as a sportsperson, former professional football player, coach and qualified personal trainer.
Reports suggest he was flying to the US to take a job teaching football at an academy in Daytona, Florida.
He shared a picture of himself at Daytona Beach, earlier this week, telling followers: “Great to be back in the sunshine state.
“Blessed to call this place home for the next few months.”
McInerney appeared in court last week and has been released on bail.
His lawyer declined to comment.
In a statement, Delta said it has “has zero tolerance for unruly behaviour at our airports and aboard our aircraft as nothing is more important that the safety of our people and our customers”.
US airlines reported more than 5,000 incidents of “unruly passenger behaviour” last year – with 3,600 involving fliers allegedly refusing to wear face masks.