A man whose behavior is alleged to have caused a United Airlines flight traveling from Rome to Chicago to be diverted to Belfast on Saturday appeared in court Monday on charges of endangering the safety of a plane, being disorderly, and assaulting one of the cabin crew.
According to William Robinson, police constable in charge of the U.K. case, Jeremiah Mathias Thede, an American citizen with a registered address in Berkeley, Calif., is alleged to have stood up during the flight’s ascent, while the seatbelt sign was still on and refused to sit down until he was served nuts and crackers. Ten minutes later, he allegedly again asked for the snacks and became abusive when he was refused, the BBC reports.
Testimonies in court contend that Thede was belligerent with the crew, lifted bags in and out of overhead lockers, and blocked aisles until both passengers and crew felt unsafe. The flight was therefore diverted before it crossed into open water.
Thede said he was the victim of a conspiracy and was being “picked on,” Robinson told the BBC.
The United Airlines flight landed safely in Belfast, dumping more than 13,000 gallons of fuel. The airline estimates the incident could cost as much as $500,000 in compensation.