Investment banker William Clegg, 33, was on board a long-haul flight to London Heathrow from the US and had taken sleeping pills, three glasses of wine and two travel-sized bottles of Baileys
An investment banker has been cleared of assaulting five flight attendants on a transatlantic British Airways flight.
William Clegg, 33, was on board a long-haul flight from San Jose in the US to London Heathrow on August 25, 2019, and was accused of assaulting five staff members.
The alleged assaults included attempting to headbutt a female flight attendant and pulling a male flight attendant onto the ground.
However, the 33-year-old was found not guilty on all counts after the jury deliberated for just under one hour.
He broke down in tears as the not guilty verdicts were returned.
Mr Clegg’s defence was that his conduct on the BA flight was caused by combining alcohol with two Ambien tablets – the side effects of which he was unaware.
“If somebody told me – or had I read the leaflet – and it said there was a one in a million chance of this happening, I would not have taken the pills,” he said.
Defending Trevor Mr Burke QC told the jury that at the time of the incident Mr Clegg was working as a merchant banker.
He would regularly fly to clients in Japan and the Middle East – and had taken 90 work-related flights in the year before the incident.
The jury also heard that the former Abingdon school pupil had suffered from nocturnal epilepsy between the ages of eight and 13.
As a result of this period of childhood nocturnal epilepsy, he suffers from insomnia – struggling to get between four to six hours sleep, he said.
A few weeks before the flight, Mr Clegg believes he suffered a day-time epileptic fit for the first time at a wedding in Majorca.
The incident was witnessed by two doctors at the wedding, his defence barrister added.
Following medical examination back in England, Mr Clegg said doctors told him to avoid driving for six months.
He then travelled to California, where he and his girlfriend rented a villa with a swimming pool.
Mr Clegg told the jury that his girlfriend also suffers insomnia and takes Ambien to deal with it.
While in California, he accompanied his girlfriend to a doctor in Beverley Hills for her Ambien prescription a few days before he was due to fly home.
He said that at the doctor’s office he was offered an Ambien prescription for the first time to deal with his insomnia.
He said his girlfriend often took Ambien after drinking alcohol without any negative effects.
“My girlfriend had taken it numerous times, two to three pills, with or without wine,” he said.
“She is half my size and never had any adverse effects.”
The businessman, of Notting Hill, west London, told the jury 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 of the Ambien pills that told him not to drink alcohol with the extremely strong sleeping tablets.
Clegg, of Notting Hill, west London, was cleared of five counts of assault by beating.
In a statement following the four day trial at Isleworth Crown Court, he 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.”