One of two passengers who became drunk and belligerent on a Sunwing flight, forcing it to return to Toronto’s Pearson airport, pleaded for clemency during her sentencing hearing on Friday.
The incident dates back to Aug. 27, 2014, after the plane left Toronto at 4:30 p.m. en route to Cuba.
Passengers Lilia Ratmanski, of Whitby, and Milana Muzikante, of Vaughan, became intoxicated, loud and belligerent after drinking alcohol they had bought from duty-free. They argued with the crew and smoked in the washroom — setting off the smoke alarm — then, discarded the cigarette in the paper towel dispenser.
When Ratmanski said, “We should bomb the plane over Cuba and post it on Facebook,” and Muzikante agreed, a passenger told a flight attendant.
The pilot didn’t take the bomb threat seriously, but was concerned with distress to the other passengers, the safety of the aircraft and whether the situation would escalate.
The plane was over the Atlantic Ocean when the pilot made the decision to return to Toronto, which was closer than Cuba, escorted by two CF-18 Hornet fighter jets from the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Ratmanski and Muzikante were arrested and charged with five offences each, including smoking on board an aircraft, endangering the safety of an aircraft, mischief endangering life and uttering threats.
Some passengers were so traumatized they decided to cancel their trip.
The lawyers for both women, who pleaded guilty to mischief and smoking on an aircraft, are asking for conditional sentences.
If Muzikante doesn’t get a conditional sentence or complete discharge, she will be deported to Germany.
“My whole life is here,” she tearfully told Band. “I did this to myself. It was a huge mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.”
She said it would take her 20 to 30 years to pay the restitution to Sunwing — as much as $42,500 split two ways. And she added with a conditional discharge, she would be able to get her nursing licence.
“That’s all I am, all I wanted to be,” she said.
The Crown said the effects of alcohol are doubled at the plane’s altitude, adding there was a risk of fire and in a post-911 world, the word “bomb” triggers an automatic response from fighter jets.
The Crown is asking for a suspended sentence, 12 months’ probation and a $500 fine for each woman for smoking on an aircraft.
They also want counselling for alcohol, 25 hours of community service on top of the 100 they have already done.
Ratmanski couldn’t attend her mother’s funeral in the Ukraine because she wasn’t allowed to fly.
Sunwing has also placed both women on a no-fly list.
Band will deliver his sentence on Dec. 12 or 13.