Ex-BA pilot who was four times over flying alcohol limit faces jail
- Julian Monaghan reported for a British Airways flight from Gatwick Airport just hours after drinking a vodka and coke.
An ex-British Airways pilot who turned up for a 12-hour flight more than four times over the alcohol limit has been told he will probably be jailed. Julian Monaghan, 49, was arrested at Gatwick Airport at 8.25pm on 18 January after reporting for duty for a flight to Mauritius - which was due to depart at 8.20pm.
The planned take-off was less than eight hours after he had consumed a vodka and coke, which left him with 86mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system. For pilots, the prescribed limit is 20mg. He pleaded guilty to the offence at Crawley Magistrates' Court, which British Airways said represented "completely unacceptable behaviour" and "not what we expect from our highly professional fleet of pilots".
The court heard how Monaghan had drunk a vodka and coke hours before the flight. But Emlyn Jones, defending, told the court his client had drunk well in advance of the time he was due to take up his responsibilities. Mr Jones said: "He would not have been charged with taking up the role of pilot until three-and-a-half hours into the flight. He turned up for work appalled, astonished and horrified that he was still over the limit."
The court heard how Monaghan had been on a overnight flight as a passenger the night before, and had spent the day without food or sleep. Mr Jones added that Monaghan was "only a fraction" over the drink-drive limit of 80mg, but that comparison was rejected by bench chair Dr David Wiggins. He dismissed the attempted defence as "spurious", adding: "A pilot in a Boeing 777 is somewhat different from driving on the road, so we are completely ignoring that comment." Mr Jones did admit that his client had "thrown away the only career he has ever known". "He has been a pilot his whole life, and that has gone," he added.
The court was asked to consider sentencing Monaghan on Wednesday, but the case was sent to Lewes Crown Court. Dr Wiggins told Monaghan: "I think you need to prepare yourself there is a very, very high chance that it will be an immediate custodial sentence."
He will be sentenced on 12 June.