Jennifer Lauren, the 41-year-old niece of fashion designer Ralph Lauren, was so intoxicated when she was hauled off a flight from Barcelona to New York—which was forced to make an unscheduled stop in Ireland—that she reportedly asked the arresting policewoman: “Can you say that in English please?”
Ms. Lauren, a jewelry designer, was today fined €2,000 for the air rage rampage which saw her chase airline staff through the first-class area of the plane, and call an air hostess a “f**king ugly, blonde bitch” and a pilot an ‘asshole’.
There then followed a humiliating 48-hour encounter with the Irish forces of law and order, which at one point saw Lauren forced to appear in a makeshift court in the basement function room of a rural pub in County Tipperary, Ireland.
Today, however, the proceedings moved to a proper court house in Ennis, where the judge imposed the €2,000 fine, but spared Lauren, who was dressed in a velvet skirt and jewelry of her own design, from jail time. She could have been imprisoned for up to four months. Lauren pleaded guilty to breaching the peace and being drunk on board a transatlantic Delta Air Lines flight.
According to website breakingnews.ie, the flight, bound for New York’s JFK airport, had been in the air for two hours when an air hostess noticed the defendant crying in her seat, which would not recline properly.
Inspector Tom Kennedy of the Irish police said that Lauren told stewardess Constance Topping to “get the f**k out of my face” as she tried to help, and that Lauren followed her through first class and in the galley “at speed” where she ranted, roared and shouted incoherently.
“She told the air hostess she was going to go ballistic and pushed the air hostess hard and she hit her back against the wall of the aircraft,” Kennedy said.
He added that Lauren called Topping a “f**king ugly, blonde bitch” and called her supervisor a “fat, ugly, unhappy, blonde bitch”.
A pilot on a rest break in the cabin who intervened, was called “an asshole” by the defendant, Kennedy added.
Lauren’s solicitor told the court, in mitigation, that Lauren was taking prescription medication and had suffered a reaction to alcohol she had drunk. Her solicitor also said that Lauren was “upset and embarrassed” by her actions, which she said were “out of character”. The court today also heard that Lauren had a history of anxiety and had battled anorexia in her youth.
In sentencing, Judge Patrick Durcan accepted Lauren’s early guilty plea and her impeccable character and commended her for overcoming an eating disorder. But he described the “very personal insults” directed at the two air hostesses and pilot “as nothing short of reprehensible.”
“By virtue of the behavior of this woman, over 100 people had their schedules disrupted,” he added. “All of that in my view is serious in the extreme.”
The diversion cost the airline more than $43,000, including $17,704 in fuel charges, $1,662 in pilot costs, $1,451 for flight attendants, $1,226 in landing fees, $2,286 in handling charges, $700 for maintenance and $17,230 for passenger upheaval.
The court heard 107 passengers were affected by Lauren’s actions, with 10 put on later connecting flights, 70 given an overnight stay and 27 staying for two nights in New York.
The flight, which had 209 passengers and crew on board, was traveling from Barcelona to New York on Monday, when it was diverted to Shannon airport after staff on the plane became concerned about Lauren’s behavior.
When policewoman Yvette Walsh from Shannon Garda station arrested Lauren at Shannon Airport 2:05 PM on Monday, Lauren is said to have replied: “Can you say that in English please.” Lauren later reportedly said she thought she was in Spain.
Lauren was subsequently taken to a police station on Monday and had her first encounter with Irish law on Tuesday- in the downstairs function room of the Brian Boru pub in the town of Ballina. There is no dedicated courthouse in the area. (Brian Boru, the ancient High King of Ireland, is said to have been born in Ballina.)
According to reports, a bar adjacent to where the hearing was taking place was cordoned off with wire mesh, while a sign outside the pub urged customers to, “Eat, party and celebrate like a king.”
In 2004, Lauren, who runs a jewelry business called Jenny Lauren jewelry, wrote a memoir entitled Homesick, in which she included details about her eating disorder during her teens and early 20s.