An Ealing teacher who drunkenly assaulted an air steward has been spared a prison sentence.
Katherine Goldberg, 25, downed a bottle of whisky on a Virgin Atlantic flight and became so drunk that she became under the “alcohol-induced illusion” that the man was her boyfriend, Isleworth Crown court heard yesterday.
Goldberg, who pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to sexual assault and being drunk on an aircraft, was on board Virgin Atlantic flight VS602 from Johannesburg to Heathrow on 24th August when the incident happened. She was returning from a trip to South Africa where she had celebrated the end of her teaching exams.
Her behaviour was described by witnesses as “very irritating” because she disturbed them while they were trying to rest, said James O’Connell, prosecuting.
One member of the cabin crew “took an interest in her care” and tried to calm her down. O’Connell continued: “However, it was at this point that the defendant’s antics changed and became sexual in nature. She was heard to tell the air steward: ‘Let me and you go somewhere. You can touch me anywhere you want, I don’t mind.’”
“In her complete alcoholic funk,” added O’Connell, “she was confusing him with her current boyfriend and a previous boyfriend.
“She was somehow imagining this was her boyfriend with whom she was interacting.”
The court was told that Goldberg, who has been suspended from her job as a teacher at a Montessori school, has since admitted to having an alcohol problem, is now abstinent and attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings five times a week.
She also went on a one-month residential course after realising she had hit “rock bottom”.
Goldberg was fined £1500, ordered to carry out an 11-month community order and 80 hours of unpaid work, and to pay £250 costs. Had she received a 12-month order, she would have been forced to sign the sex offenders’ register, barring her from working with children.
Judge Andrew McDowall said: “I would be wrong to impose a lifetime punishment by preventing you working in a profession where you clearly have talent.”
Katherine Goldberg, 25, from Ealing Common, has appeared in court for groping a air steward 33,000ft in the air and for being drunk aboard an aircraft.
It is thought she drank 500ml, which is the equivalent of ten double shots in a pub or bar.
Goldberg, who is originally from South Africa, was believed to be returning from Johannesburg after visiting relatives when the incident took place on the Airbus A340-600 at 5.30am British time.
A spokesman for the airline said: ‘Virgin Atlantic can confirm that the VS602 from Johannesburg was met by police on arrival at Heathrow and a passenger was arrested.’
She was granted unconditional bail yesterday at Uxbridge Crown court and is due to appear back in the same court next week.