A mother and daughter attacked a pilot after pushing him into his cockpit and biting him in a row over a buggy, a court heard today.
Henrietta Mitaiare, 23, and her mother Mary Roberts, 53, flew with Swiss Air from Zurich to London Heathrow on May 2 last year.
Before the flight left Switzerland, Mitaiare got into an argument with airport staff after they said her child’s buggy had to go into the hold.
She was forced to accept she couldn’t keep it with her and the two women and the child boarded the plane, Uxbridge Magistrates Court was told.
But when they landed in London, Mitaiare demanded to know the names of the women she had spoken to so she could make a complaint.
When Captain Guido Keel intervened to say they could take his name, Mitaiare said it was ‘nothing to do with him’ and shoved him into his cockpit, the court heard.
A physical altercation ensued, with Mitaiare biting him on the arm and her mother biting his finger.
The two women are accused of assault by beating but both deny the charges.
Henrietta Mitaiare is pictured in Kensington, west London, in January 2016
Swiss Air co-pilot Friedrich Preiler (pictured) gave evidence in the case at Uxbridge Magistrates Court today
Magistrates in Uxbridge heard Mitaiare claimed it was ‘too expensive’ to put her child’s buggy in the plane hold and rowed with workers until finally accepting it had to go in.
But when Mitaiare approached Ali Chkerdaa, the cabin manager, after they landed at Heathrow, she reignited the feud and demanded to know the names of the two women on the gate to make a complaint.
When the captain intervened to give his name, she told him he had ‘nothing to do with it’ and pushed him back into the cockpit, the court heard.
While the two were ‘tussling’ on the floor, Roberts pushed past Mr Chkerdaa shouting ‘get off my baby’ before kicking the captain while he was down.
Despite efforts from Mr Chkerdaa and ground staff, the fight couldn’t be broken up until police officers arrived.
Arlene De Silva, prosecuting, said: ‘This is an incident that took place on a Swiss Air flight which boarded at Zurich and landed at Heathrow.
‘The defendant, Miss Mitaiare, initially approached the manager about her bringing a buggy and questioning why she couldn’t have her buggy on the plane.
‘When the flight landed at Heathrow she approached him again to get means of contact because she wanted to make a complaint.
Mitaiare, 23, and her mother Mary Roberts, 53, flew with Swiss Air (pictured) from Zurich to London Heathrow on May 2 last year
‘He said he didn’t have any other names and was standing next to the captain who identified himself and said he was responsible so said ‘have my name.’
‘The defendant had her phone out and was starting to record the captain.
‘She shoved it at the captain, pushed him in the shoulder area while she was recording and she was saying something like ‘she was black’ and ‘was going to put everything live on Facebook.
‘She then grabbed the captain by his hand and pushed him into the cockpit.
‘He was in the cockpit, she followed him into the cockpit there was a tussle and she ended up on top of the captain.
‘During the course of that his face was scratched his arm was scratched and she was seen to bite the captain on his arm.
‘Her mother was also travelling with her at this point. She was initially outside the cockpit but when she saw what was happening went in and started kicking him while he was on the floor saying basically ‘get off my daughter.’
‘Other members of the flight staff and ground crew and also officers then attended and removed the defendant from the cockpit.’
The two women are accused of assault by beating and appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates Court today (pictured) but both deny the charges
The court heard how the pair both provided no-comment interviews when questioned by police but Mitaiare gave a pre-prepared statement.
Mr Chkerdaa also told the court how he was bitten by Roberts when he tried to step in.
Wearing his Swiss Air uniform, he took to the stand to explain the incident from the start.
He said: ‘She said the buggy was too expensive and she doesn’t want to put it in the hold.
‘I said if it’s already labelled on the luggage so we have to put it in the hold and I already told her the flight was fully booked and there was no space left anywhere.
‘I already had two ladies coming to the gate because she tried to pull the tag off.
‘They started arguing between them, the lady and the two women working at the gate.
‘I was just standing by because she was always trying to have a discussion with me because she said I was the manager on the flight.
‘The mother stepped in and calmed down the daughter and said ‘ok enough, just accept it.’
‘They walked into the plane and she was very loud. We put the baggage in the hold.’
He later recalled the moment the attack began, adding: ‘It was a back and forth – ‘give me the name, give me the name’.
‘I thought, okay I’m the flight manager I will give her the business card – ‘If you have a problem or you are not happy you can contact Swiss and they will know exactly who was on this flight on the ground.’
‘She didn’t accept my business card. Then the captain came beside me and said ‘you have already the name of the person if there is a problem you can write to Swiss.’
‘She said ‘Sorry you have nothing to do with it, stay away.’ ‘She said ‘Swiss people are racist’ – it’s because she is a black woman travelling with a child.
‘I think she was holding the phone with one hand and the captain said ‘ok, we’ll have to stop it. Could you please step outside.’
‘The moment he touched her she went all crazy, ‘don’t touch me.’ ‘I don’t know if he touched her, but he put his had towards this side between her arm and shoulder.
‘Then they started fighting. She was going to the face, because she is shorter, and the neck with one hand and the other hand was holding the phone.
‘He was laying on his back and she is not on top of him but on the side and he was pushing her away with his hand.
‘The mother pushed me to the side and went inside saying ‘leave my baby alone.’ She was kicking, with the feet. One foot maybe.
‘They were both on the floor but I think she was trying to kick the captain. There was ground staff from London, I asked him to help me so we could pull her out but we couldn’t.
‘I couldn’t pull her out so I asked him to call the police and in the meantime there was a woman working as ground staff and she came to help me.
‘When they were fighting she [Roberts] bit me on my finger but we were able to pull the jacket on top of her head. Because we could not pull her out from the cockpit.’
His co-pilot Friedrich Preiler, who was completing paperwork in the cockpit when the fight began, told the court: ‘It was like a battlefield, there were shoes on the floor and some buttons.
‘I saw some hair and two telephones. I saw blood on the captain’s neck. I saw that he had scratches.
‘I saw that the pilot’s shirt was full of blood. I saw on the hand that there was more blood.’
Roberts, of Fulham, south west London, and Mitaiare, of Kensington, west London, both deny the charges of assault by beating on Captain Guido Keel.