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Man held in plane incident faces hearing

He is accused of assaulting flight attendants and trying to open the plane's door while in flight.

©Associated Press

August 20, 2002

He is accused of assaulting flight attendants and trying to open the plane's door while in flight.

ORLANDO -- A British passenger accused of getting drunk and attacking members of a flight crew as their Sanford-bound plane landed will have a hearing today to determine if he should be jailed until his trial.

Victor William Mardell, 57, was ordered Monday to return to U.S. District Court for the hearing. The London resident was being held at Seminole County Jail and charged with interfering with a flight crew -- which could carry a 20-year sentence.

Mardell was arrested Saturday aboard the Air 2000 flight from Manchester, England, after it landed in Sanford. He was coming to Central Florida for a relative's wedding, his attorney said.

An arrest affidavit made public Monday alleged that Mardell tried to open the plane's door while in flight, was verbally abusive to a boy sitting next to him, pushed a flight attendant against a bathroom door and twice had to be restrained by other passengers.

The affidavit said that flight attendants twice had to confiscate Jameson whiskey from Mardell.

As flight attendants made preparations for the plane to land, Mardell began cussing and became verbally abusive to a boy sitting next to him. When the boy's father said something, Mardell replied, "I'll (expletive) kill you," according to the affidavit.

He then left his seat, approached a seated flight attendant and grabbed her shoulders. A group of other passengers restrained Mardell and took him to his seat while another flight attendant moved the boy and his mother to another part of the plane, the affidavit said.

"Every flight attendant interviewed . . . described how dangerous it was having passengers out of their seats when the plane was about to land," the affidavit said.

Just before landing, Mardell stared at another flight attendant and said: "You won't even look at me. You won't even look me in the (expletive) eye," the affidavit said.

After the plane landed, Mardell lunged for the flight attendant, but another flight attendant and several other passengers restrained him. As she was trying to restrain him, the second flight attendant said Mardell grabbed her by the wrist and shoved her against the plane's bathroom door, the affidavit said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Turner argued that Mardell should be jailed because of the "violent nature of the incident."

"This type of crime, we basically have zero tolerance for," he said.

But Mardell's attorney, Peter Warren Kenny, argued that his client would stay in Central Florida until trial if he was released. Kenny said his client suffers from arthritis and is deaf in one ear.

"He's 57 years old and never has been in trouble," Kenny said.

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