Jun 20, 2008
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Naomi Campbell spared jail over assault on jet

Jun 20, 2008

LONDON, June 20, 2008 (AFP) - British supermodel Naomi Campbell was ordered Friday June 20th to do 200 hours of community service for assaulting two police officers trying to eject her from a plane after a foul-mouthed tirade over lost luggage.

Naomi Campbell - Photo : AFP

The 38-year-old runway diva faced being sent to prison for up to six months and fined a maximum of 5,000 pounds (6,300 euros, 9,900 dollars) on each of the three assault charges she faced.

Instead, Campwell was sentenced at Uxbridge magistrates court in west London to the community service -- equal to working five 40-hour weeks -- to be carried out within 12 months for lashing out at the captain of the British Airways jet and police with a barrage of abuse and spitting.

She was also told to pay 200 pounds each to the two officers, 150 pounds to the captain -- all of whom she accused of targeting her because she was black -- and fines totalling 2,300 pounds.

Last year Campbell did five days of community service in a New York City sanitation warehouse for having thrown a mobile phone at a housemaid and was ordered to undergo anger management therapy.

Her clashes with the law do not appear to have damaged her career -- shortly before her sentencing Friday, French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent announced she would front its autumn-winter 2008-2009 advertising campaign.

Her lawyer said she was "genuinely apologetic" for the incident, which happened when her flight to Los Angeles was about to leave Heathrow's brand-new Terminal Five, where problems with the baggage handling had caused chaos.

Judge Peter Yiacoumi said her sentence took into account her guilty pleas and previous good character.

"These offences are aggravated because they were committed within a lengthy incident in a confined space on an aircraft," he said.

"Whilst we accept that the loss of your suitcase would have been stressful your subsequent behaviour cannot be justified."

Earlier, prosecutor Melanie Parrish told the court that Campbell had initially been friendly and professional when she boarded the flight on a first-class ticket.

But she became irate after Captain Miles Sutherland told passengers that take-off could be delayed because problems that dogged the first two weeks after Terminal 5 opened meant that not all the luggage had been loaded.

She was told one of her bags -- containing an Yves Saint Laurent outfit that she was contracted to wear on a US chat show -- was not on board.

When Sutherland came out of the cockpit to explain the situation and outline what steps she could take, Campbell flew into a rage, ordering him to find the bag himself.

"To say that this process was difficult would be something of an understatement. Miss Campbell made no attempt to listen to him and talked over him, stating, 'I don't want to hear'," Parrish said.

The model was then heard to say on her mobile phone: "They have lost my fucking bags, get me another flight, get the press, get me my lawyer."

She then shouted at Sutherland: "How dare you tell me what my options are? You are not leaving until you find my fucking bags."

As he walked away, the model added: "You are a racist. You wouldn't be doing this if I was white."

Concerned cabin crew called police but Campbell refused to move, despite being warned four times she was going to be forcibly ejected.

Parrish said that as one police officer reached forward to try to take Campbell's arm, the model "went berserk, thrashing her arms around uncontrollably", hitting the officer on the arm with her phone.

The officer's colleague was then kicked in the thigh by Campbell's stiletto-heeled boots in a struggle that forced the only other first-class passenger to move to the staff kitchen for safety, she said.

Campbell then spat on a policeman, prompting him to arrest her for assault, Parrish said.

She became more violent as they tried to remove her, shouting "don't touch me", kicking out and telling the officers: "It is because I am a black woman. You are all racists. I am going to sue you. I am going to fuck you."

Campbell's spokesman Alan Edwards said after the case: "She is very, very relieved it is over and she has been treated fairly."by Phil Hazlewood

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