A Kiwi man who demanded to be served by a “white girl” on A British Airways flight has been convicted of racially aggravated abuse.
Peter Nelson was flying business class on a flight from Heathrow to Rio De Janeiro when he was awoken by a flight attendant seeking to take his meal order, sparking a string of racial abuse from the 46-year-old IT consultant.
“You Asians think you are better than us, I don’t want to be served by you lot, I’ve paid your wages for the last 20 years,” Nelson said, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Witnesses reported Nelson reduced the target of his abuse, Sima Patel-Pryke, to tears after he “shouted very loudly” at her.
Cabin crew were forced to ready a restraining kit and threatened Nelson with arrest.
Prosecutor Michael Tanney told the court Nelson “demanded services in the future only from the white members of the crew.”
Nelson was found guilty to one count of racially aggravated abuse and was fined $3823, with $955 compensation to his victim and $6690 costs to the prosecution.
“It was thoroughly unpleasant period of conduct by you; such was your conduct that members of staff were called to deal with you and they had cause to contact the pilot,” Judge Edward Connell said.
“It’s quite plain, albeit this wasn’t the most serious case the court hears, that it had an impact on Pryke who we heard in evidence was upset and ended up in tears because of your behaviour.
“It was completely unacceptable and I’m entirely satisfied that it was contributed by that you had drunk a significant amount of alcohol during the course of that flight.
“I accept this conviction will have profound ramifications for you and your employability so I’m just persuaded that this can be dealt with a financial penalty.”
Nelson lives in a $2.2 million five-bedroom house in Ascot, Berkshire with his wife and two kids and was earning $2900 a week at GlaxoSmithKline until he lost his job as a result of his actions.
The court heard Nelson is now considering moving back to New Zealand after 20 years in the UK.
“He has lost his job. He was the breadwinner of the family. It is life-changing for Nelson, the two of them have taken the decision to take their children out of their school because it’s an international school,” Defence lawyer Lauren Sales said, adding that Nelson’s wife suffered from stress from the allegations and subsequential media attention.
Travel Weekly has contacted British Airways for comment.