A 56-year-old man has been charged for allegedly slapping a senior TV executive mid-flight after walking through the plane with his penis exposed. Hatam Hamad, a grandfather-of-25, reportedly drank five glasses of wine before reportedly exposing himself to Joel Vilmenay.
Vilmenay was traveling with his wife and two young children from New Orleans to London on British Airways flight BA224 last week when the incident took place. He confronted the Palestinian and American dual national but Hamad “responded by grunting” and showed himself to another passenger, a court heard.
Hamad, who runs a family petrol station in New Orleans, was handed a six-week jail sentence at Uxbridge Magistrates Court, suspended for one year, after he admitted assault by beating.
“He explains he was travelling with his wife and two children, aged eight and five, he had just taken his daughter to the bathroom and returned to his seat," prosecutor Wendy Barrett said reading a statement from Vilmenay.
The TV executive, who was not in court, added in the statement, "After about five minutes a male, Mr. Hamad, came down the aisle to me, directly to my chair where I was sitting with my kids.”
“My daughter was awake and my son was asleep. This male had his penis out and exposed within three inches of my face,” the statement continued. “At this time I felt shocked and then attempted to stand up and shouted at the male, ‘what are you doing?’”
Vilmenay said Hamad refused to put his penis away and then slapped the executive in the chest "with some force" before cabin crew took him to the back of the plane where he was guarded for the rest of the flight.
"I was very concerned by what he might do to me and my family and the other passengers around us,” he said.
“Mr. Vilmenay sat back down and was concerned obviously about his daughter being exposed to this behavior," Barrett said. “Cabin crew, once alerted, approached Mr. Hamad. He had to be escorted to another part of the plane. Other passengers were moved from the very back row."
Barrett said, “Having been arrested for this incident by police who met the flight at Heathrow he was taken back to the police station and interviewed.”
After being taken into custody, Hamad denied the attack and told police he boarded the flight alone, drank “five cups of wine” then went to sleep. He told police he had not drunk alcohol for three months prior, adding, “I’m not crazy, I did not do the things you say.”
Defending, Ranveer Authwall said it was “a serious matter and he’s fully aware of that.”
Authwall said, “Mr. Hamad is anxious that he does not receive a custodial sentence. It’s also going to have an impact on his family.”
Chair of the bench, Lyn Green, said, “We’re going to send you to prison for a period of six weeks, however this period of being in prison will be suspended for one year... There will be a compensation order for the victim of $789, a surcharge of $151 and costs of $112.”
"You have pleaded guilty but there are a lot of aggravating features to this. You were in a restricted area on a plane, you used a member of crew for a substantial amount of time... There were children present when this occurred and you were under the influence of alcohol," Green added.
A British Airways spokesperson said, according to the Daily Mail: "We will not tolerate disruptive or abusive behaviour towards our customers and crew, and the appropriate action will always be taken. Our cabin crew moved Mr. Hamad, reassured customers, and arranged for police to meet the aircraft."