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EXCLUSIVE: Mother of British tourist in US air rage incident says she is in shock after learning he faces 20 years in prison for allegedly forcing Manchester flight to divert

  • Anthony Joseph James Kirby and Damien Jake Murphy were arrested by US cops
  • Both 36 and from Manchester, the pair have been charged with federal offences
  • Damien’s mum told MailOnline of her astonishment at hearing of her son’s arrest 

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The mother of a British holidaymaker who could face up to 20 years in a US prison after being held by the FBI for an air rage incident has told of her astonishment at hearing of his arrest.

US prosecutors said Damien Murphy and his friend Anthony Kirby, both 36, were detained over their extremely disruptive behaviour aboard a flight home to Manchester from Mexico.

The pair are understood to have been partying on holiday with other friends over the New Year weekend but their flight home was diverted to make an unplanned landing in the US.

Some six armed officers boarded the Tui flight from Cancun moments after it was forced to touch down at Bangor international airport in Maine on Monday night after it was claimed the pair verbally and physically abused passengers and crew.

Damien Jake Murphy

Anthony Joseph James Kirby

Pictured: Damien Jake Murphy (left) and Anthony Joseph James Kirby (right), both 36 and from Manchester, were detained by US officers and have been charged with federal offences. They could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted

Damien's mum Joanne Rafter today told of her shock at learning of her son's arrest and the threat facing him

Damien’s mum Joanne Rafter today told of her shock at learning of her son’s arrest and the threat facing him

Damien Murphy was detained over their extremely disruptive behaviour aboard a flight home to Manchester from Mexico

Damien Murphy was detained over their extremely disruptive behaviour aboard a flight home to Manchester from Mexico

In a video filmed by a passenger, the first man, carrying a black holdall and red plastic bag, walks down the aisle laughing as police escort him off followed by his friend, who pushes past an officer.

The two then become embroiled in a verbal altercation with others on board, with one shouting: ‘Get off.’ One of the men responds by shouting: ‘F**got.’ A third man dressed in black quietly walks off the plane followed by US police.

Murphy and Kirby, both from Manchester, have been charged with federal offences and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. A third man, who has not been named, was not charged.

Damien’s mum Joanne Rafter today told of her shock at learning of her son’s arrest and the threat facing him.

She told MailOnline: ‘I don’t know what’s gone on. We haven’t spoken to Damien. It is all a shock.

‘We knew he was going on holiday but I don’t know if they were all friends before or if he had met on holiday.’

Mrs Rafter added: ‘We only found out about the arrest yesterday when someone contacted me to say it was on the internet.

‘I have seen the footage but don’t know anything other than that. We will have to see what happens now.’

Relatives of Anthony Kirby at his home nearby refused to discuss his arrest. 

In exclusive footage given to the MailOnline, three British men are seen being removed from a plane by US Federal Police officers as it was flying from Mexico to Manchester. The aircraft was forced to make an unplanned landing in the US because of their allegedly disruptive behaviour. Damien Jake Murphy (left) was arrested and charged along with Anthony Joseph James Kirby (centre). The third man (seen right towards the rear of the plane) was not arrested

In exclusive footage given to the MailOnline, three British men are seen being removed from a plane by US Federal Police officers as it was flying from Mexico to Manchester. The aircraft was forced to make an unplanned landing in the US because of their allegedly disruptive behaviour. Damien Jake Murphy (left) was arrested and charged along with Anthony Joseph James Kirby (centre). The third man (seen right towards the rear of the plane) was not arrested

Damien Jake Murphy carries his belongings as he is removed from the plane by US officers

Damien Jake Murphy is escorted off the plane

Damien Jake Murphy (seen wearing a blue top) carries his belongings as he is removed from the plane by US officers

Anthony Joseph James Kirby is shown barging past one of the US officers as he is removed from the flight

Anthony Joseph James Kirby is removed from the flight

Anthony Joseph James Kirby is shown barging past one of the US officers as he is removed from the flight

Kirby and Murphy have been charged with federal offences and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. The third man, who has not been named, was not charged.

According to the FBI, their behaviour escalated as the plane flew over US airspace.

The men were refused alcohol by cabin crew but one is said to have retrieved a bottle from his carry-on luggage so that they could continue drinking.

They are also accused of allegedly making racist remarks about the staff and passengers while filming the interactions and attacking an employee who tried to calm them down.

Moments after the plane made its unexpected stop one of the men arrested is accused of getting into a fist fight with a passenger.

One holidaymaker, who was on the plane, told MailOnline: ‘It was total pandemonium on the plane soon after it took off. It was obvious that these lads were drunk out of their heads and looking for trouble.

‘When the plane landed in Maine, one of the men hit another passenger around the face and screamed: ‘You fat scouse c**t.”

He added: ‘These men didn’t care about anyone, they were swearing in front of young families and were a total disgrace. It ruined what had been a lovely holiday for a lot of people, but we were delighted when the US police kicked them off the plane. I hope they get what they deserve.’

A third man, who has not been named, was also removed from the flight. He was not arrested or charged by US authorities. He is shown towards the rear of the plane removing his belongings

He is shown left as he was removed by US officers

A third man, who has not been named, was also removed from the flight. He was not arrested or charged by US authorities. He is shown left towards the rear of the plane removing his belonging, and right as he was removed by US officers

Caroline Farbridge, 56 who had been on a two-week holiday in Cancun, said: ‘The passengers clapped and cheered when the US police came on board because we were so desperate to get these men off.

‘They behaved in a truly despicable way. They were drunk even before they got on the plane, one of them was so paralytic he could barely walk. I could tell that they were going to be trouble and they just wanted to cause problems for everybody around them.’

She added: ‘It was quite a horrible, terrifying experience and I don’t understand why the airline let these men board in the drunken condition they were in.’

After the men were kicked off the flight, two FBI officers then boarded and took witness statements from other passengers before the plane was allowed to continue its journey to Manchester, arriving around four hours late.

Ms Farbridge, who had been on holiday with her daughter, revealed that the captain made several announcements appealing for the men to stop drinking and behave otherwise he would be forced to land the plane. 

Anthony Joseph James Kirby, one of the three men who were kicked off the plane, is seen posing for a photograph after seemingly taken part in an 'Ironman' triathlon. He was arrested by US officials for causing a disturbance on the flight and has been charged

Anthony Joseph James Kirby, one of the three men who were kicked off the plane, is seen posing for a photograph after seemingly taken part in an ‘Ironman’ triathlon. He was arrested by US officials for causing a disturbance on the flight and has been charged  

Anthony Joseph James Kirby is seen posing with an unnamed woman

Anthony Joseph James Kirby is seen posing with an unnamed woman

The plane was diverted to Bangor International Airport in Maine (pictured, file photo)

The plane was diverted to Bangor International Airport in Maine (pictured, file photo)

She added: ‘About an hour after the plane took off from Mexico all you could hear was shouting and hollering coming from the back of the plane and it never stopped. These men were a complete nuisance, they should hang their heads in shame.

‘The captain gave them plenty of warnings, so they’ve only got themselves to blame. I hope that they are locked up for a long time. The whole crew behaved in a very professional way and the captain absolutely did the right thing by landing the plane to get these men off.’

Kirby and Murphy have both been charged with one count of interference with flight crew and assault. The charges came under a special aircraft jurisdiction in the US.

They made their first appearance in a federal court in Bangor on Tuesday and face up to 20 years in prison and fines of more than £200,000 if found guilty.

Both were remanded in custody after a judge agreed with the US attorney’s office in Maine that they should be detained until their cases are resolved because they both live outside the country.

Source: Daily Mail UK

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