An investment banker who headbutted a British Airways flight attendant and threw chocolate bars at sleeping passengers has been cleared – after saying he had not read a sleeping pill leaflet before drinking alcohol.
William Clegg, formerly of merchant bank Moelis & Company, gave a “thumbs up sign” after being found not guilty of five charges of assault on Thursday.
The court heard that the 33-year-old went on a “bizarre rampage” on board the long haul flight from San Jose, in the US, to Heathrow while travelling in business class.
After throwing the chocolate bars at passengers, Mr Clegg told cabin crew he wanted to “go outside and see his friend” while the plane was still 38,000ft up in the air, jurors were told.
Cabin crew were forced to restrain him after he tried to pull his t-shirt over a female flight attendant’s head before dragging another member of staff to the ground, the court heard.
In response, the cabin crew decided to take Mr Clegg to the back of the plane and restrain him.
However, when flight attendant Jamie Marsh tried to restrain Mr Clegg, the passenger grabbed his arm and threw him to the floor.
Mr Clegg was then taken to the back of the plane.
"It was after he was at the back of the plane that he tried to headbutt Amy Stewart three times," said Paul Edwards, prosecuting.
Clegg assaulted another two flight attendants, Cieran Robert Smith and Franz Hartmann, while they tried to restrain him at the back of the plane, Mr Edwards said.
‘My actions were totally out of character’
Mr Clegg told the jury at Isleworth Crown Court that he had taken two Ambien sleeping pills, a tablet of zopiclone known as Imovane, along with three glasses of wine and two travel-sized bottles of Baileys.
He said he did not read the leaflet on the Ambien pills that told him not to drink alcohol with the extremely strong sleeping tablets.
Mr Clegg, of Notting Hill, West London, who suffers from epilepsy and insomnia, also suggested the Beverly Hills doctor who prescribed him the pills – which are rarely given out in the UK – did not inform him to not drink alcohol while on Ambien.
His defence said he had "no conscious control" after behaving abnormally on the flight.
Jurors took just 55 minutes to return the not guilty verdicts.
In a statement following the four-day trial, Mr Clegg said: "I am extremely relieved at the verdict and would like to thank my legal team, Trevor Burke QC and Simons Muirhead Burton solicitors.
"I would like to sincerely apologise to the BA crew involved in the incident.
"My actions were totally out of character and, as the jury found, the result of prescription drugs.
"I would urge the CPS to review their handling of similar cases going forward.
"The medical evidence on which my defence relied was available over two years ago and accepting it then would have avoided the substantial waste of prosecution costs."
The case bears similarities to that of Thorbjørn Olesen, the Ryder Cup winning golfer.
Thorbjørn Olesen said he woke up with no memory of what happened on the flight
Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Last month, he was also found not guilty of a series of charges after drinking alcohol along with taking his girlfriend’s Ambien tablet on a British Airways flight.
The 31-year-old Dane said he was "embarrassed and ashamed" by accounts of what happened on board the flight after he woke up with no memory.