Drugged Irish passenger tried to storm cockpit on LA to Sydney flight

Revealed: Irish passenger, 26, took FOUR times the recommended dosage of sleeping pills before he covered his head in a blanket, pushed a flight attendant and tried to storm the cockpit on an LA to Sydney flight

  • Irish airline passenger tried to storm cockpit on international flight during fracas
  • Leroy Hyland, 26, took four times the recommended dosage of a sleeping tablet
  • Hyland lives in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and is on a temporary working visa
  • Cabin crew restrained Hyland and he was arrested on arrival at Sydney Airport

An Irish passenger took four times the recommended dosage of an over-the-counter sleeping tablet before he tried to storm the cockpit of a Los Angeles to Sydney flight. 

Leroy Hyland was holding a blanket over his head covering everything but his eyes when he approached two Delta Airlines flight attendants in the forward galley midway through DL41. 

The 26-year-old was carrying an ‘unidentifiable black object’ when he told the flight attendants he had been robbed of his wallet, passport and phone.

The flight attendants offered to accompany Hyland back to his seat to find his supposedly missing possessions, Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court heard on Tuesday.

Irishman Leroy Thomas Hyland, 26, took four times the recommended dosage of sleeping tablets before he tried to storm the cockpit of a Los Angeles to Sydney flight in October 

Leroy Hyland was holding a blanket over his head covering everything but his eyes when he approached two Delta Airlines flight attendants in the forward galley midway through DL41

Leroy Hyland disrupted a Delta Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Sydney in October last year

‘At this time, using both of his hands, the defendant gave [one flight attendant] a hard shove to his shoulder causing the flight attendant to fall backwards onto [the second cabin crew],’ a statement of facts said.

‘The defendant ran towards the cockpit door and began beating on the door with his fists.’

The banging was loud enough for the captain to hear and internal security procedures were activated during the flight in October last year. 

The two flight attendants then ran to the cockpit door and tried to pull Hyland away but he broke free and continued banging on the door with his fists.

When the cabin crew managed to get Hyland into the aisle of the aircraft they put service carts on either side of the forward galley to block his access to the cockpit door. 

A United States federal air marshal then tried to escort Hyland to the mid galley of the plane. 

Leroy Hyland was carrying an ‘unidentifiable black object’ when he told the flight attendants he had been robbed of his wallet, passport and phone on a Los Angeles to Sydney flight 

United States air marshals were forced to restrain Hyland for the remainder of the flight

‘In an attempt to get away from the air marshal, the defendant turned and jumped over seat 6B into the adjacent aisle, stepping on the passenger seated in seat 6C,’ the statement of facts said. 

Hyland jumped back over the seats located in row 6 when confronted by a second air marshal.

‘As the air marshals led the defendant towards the mid gallery of the aircraft he yelled obscenities and threw his identification card at a passenger seated in 11C,’ the statement of facts said.

‘In the mid galley of the aircraft the air marshals attempted to clam him down, at which time he charged towards them.’

Hyland was escorted down the aisle but made another attempt to push past the air marshals using his elbow to intentionally strike one of them on his right arm. 

The 26-year-old Irishman refused to obey cabin crew instructions to return to his seat and began behaving in a disruptive manner before striking one of the two US air marshals

Eventually the air marshals were able to restrain Hyland and he spent the rest of the trip handcuffed next to them until the plan touched down at 6.58am.

The court heard the Irish national, who is in Australia on a temporary working visa, was deeply ashamed of his conduct between 10.26pm on October 9 and 6.50am on October 10.

Hyland, who lives at Randwick in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, pleaded guilty to assaulting/threatening/intimidating aircraft crew and committing an act of violence on board an aircraft.

He also pleaded guilty to behaving in an offensive and disorderly manner on an aircraft.

Defence lawyer David Newham said his client had shown remorse for his behaviour which was entirely out of character.

Hyland now had an insight into how his fellow passengers and the flight crew must have felt during the fracas.

‘There’s definitely been a lot of soul-searching for My Hyland after this very, very regrettable event that occurred last year,’ Mr Newham said. 

The court heard Hyland had taken two tablets of the over-the-counter sleeping pill Unisom, then when he felt no effect swallowed two more.  

The court heard Hyland had taken two tablets of the over-the-counter sleeping pill Unisom, then when he felt no effect swallowed two more. His offending was out of character

Magistrate Julie Huber said if Hyland had not taken the tablets it was unlikely the disturbance would have occurred.

‘Of course, you took four times the recommended dosage,’ Ms Huber said. 

‘You took it upon yourself to take four times the amount simply because you wanted to sleep.

‘In many respects it is no different from having that extra glass of scotch or alcohol.’ 

Ms Huber noted Hyland’s contrition and that the had co-operated with the air marshals once he was handcuffed.

‘These offences were all committed whilst you were on a plane in mid-air,’ she said. 

‘It’s a very confined area, it’s one which is occupied my many, many strangers and in many respects good management of the plane including the safety of the plane relies on the behaviour of those occupants.’

‘It would appear that this is an unusual event and that as far as personal deterrence is concerned the requirement is relatively low,’ she said. 

Hyland was facing a potential penalty of a $10,000 fine and two years in prison. 

Ms Huber fined Hyland $4,000 for behaving in an offensive and disorderly manner and imposed two community corrections orders of two years and three years with a total of 550 hours of community service. 

Hyland declined to comment outside court.  

Magistrate Julie Huber fined Hyland $4,000 for behaving in an offensive and disorderly manner and imposed two community corrections orders of two years and three years

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