Flyer accuses parents of ‘torturing’ baby mid-flight

AN AIR New Zealand passenger who claimed parents of a baby on the plane were “torturing” their child and was charged with disorderly behaviour, has had his conviction quashed.

Anthony Laurence Gallon defended himself in the Wellington District Court earlier this year after being charged, under the Civil Aviation Act, of disorderly behaviour.

The New Zealand Herald reports Mr Gallon, 38, was a passenger on a flight from Melbourne to Wellington on December 30, 2016 when he became concerned at the way a couple were treating their distressed baby.

The baby, approximately a year old, was screaming and crying and the parents were giving it a bottle but also placing a hand on the baby’s chest.

He was sitting across the aisle from the parents and was of the opinion their actions amounted to a form of “child abuse or child torture”, Judge Stephen Harrop wrote in his reserved decision which would eventually find him guilty of the charge.

“After the father was challenged by Mr Gallon about what he was doing, the father called over the in-flight service manager, (the victim). She did not consider there was anything

wrong with the parents’ actions and asked Mr Gallon to return to his seat, which he did.”

However, Mr Gallon persisted in talking with the family and he was eventually moved four rows forward, which he agreed to do.

Mr Gallon believed by not doing anything about the parents’ actions the in-flight service manager was condoning the parents’ behaviour.

He then complained by writing a note to the captain expressing his concern about any possible mistreatment.

He wrote, “Sir, I am concerned for the wellbeing of the child in row 6, who has been

restrained against its will, to the point of tears … I can hear some resemblance of screams over the noise of the aircraft.

“If you will not assign supervision to the child, then you are choosing to tolerate child abuse. Please, do not treat lightly, the abuse of children in your aircraft.”

He was given a final warning and threatened with being met by police and for a short time became compliant before again returning to where he was originally sitting.

After landing, Mr Gallon was met by police who issued him an infringement notice which he disputed and the disorderly behaviour charge was subsequently laid.

In giving her evidence to Judge Harrop in the March hearing, the staff member said she was about five to six months’ pregnant at the time and that she and the other crew were all very tired after a few days of international flying.

But Mr Gallon said his conduct was driven “entirely by a genuine concern for the welfare of the child and that in no respect did he behave in a disorderly manner towards (the victim), or any other crew member”.

He was eventually convicted and fined $750 by Judge Harrop.

However, Mr Gallon appealed and in the High Court at Wellington Justice Francis Cooke quashed his convictions stating “the facts did not support a conviction of disorderly behaviour”, Stuff reported.

He said Mr Gallon was treated in a fair but firm way in accordance with Air New Zealand policy.

“That is what happened. After being dealt with in a firm way Mr Gallon complied. The system for maintaining order worked as it was supposed to,” Stuff reported.

No retrial was ordered.

This article originally appeared on the New Zealand Herald and was reproduced with permission.

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