(photo credit: REUTERS)
Flight jitters combined with duty-free alcohol led to a meltdown while flying for Israeli Zahi Lebhardt, causing a flight from Germany to Canada to make a pricey emergency stop in Manchester, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday.
Lebhardt, a 31-year-old father of two, was on his way to visit his girlfriend on Lufthansa flight LH470 on April 6 when panic took over and he locked himself in the plane's bathroom, screaming and scraping the toilet stall's wall until it was torn apart.
When the flight crew failed to calm the passenger, the captain made the decision to dump 36 tons of fuel and make an emergency landing in Manchester, fearful that Lebhardt would cause problems while flying over the ocean.
Lebhardt was removed alongside his luggage and has been detained in Manchester since, with no connections to the United Kingdom.
Not including fuel costs and the emergency landing, the detour cost an estimated 20,000 euros.
Lebhardt appeared via video from prison at Manchester magistrate's court, where he admitted that he was inebriated on the flight.
Lebhardt was sentenced to three months in jail and ordered to pay 200 British Pounds.
Lufthansa is also reportedly suing Lebhardt for the cost of the flight diversion.
According to the Daily Mail, Lebhardt had stated in court that he was making the journey to visit his girlfriend, who is recovering from skin cancer.
"It will never happen again in my life, I swear. I want to come back to my kids and be a law abiding citizen again. I'm a normal person and so ashamed to be in this position," Lebhardt stated.
His lawyer Vic Wozny stated that her client is a "nervous flier" who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
"He is from Tel Aviv and people say they are very brash and loud and in your face, rather like New Yorkers. That can appear to be aggressive but no aggression was intended," Wozny stated.
"I've been bombarded with messages from his relatives from Israel, America and his girlfriend in Canada all beginning me to do my best for him - all telling me about his good character."