AN engineer jailed in Dubai after breaching Islamic laws on alcohol says the nightmare is still not behind him even though he is back at his North-East home.
Terry Harrison was sentenced to three months in custody after he was convicted of drinking alcohol without a licence and knowingly touching a woman during a flight from Bangkok to Dubai in April.
Mr Harrison was arrested when the plane landed and spent 78 days in a detention compound at the airport before a judge found him guilty of both offences.
Along with the prison sentence, which was covered by time on remand, he was fined 2000 United Arab Emirates Dirham, around £320, and spent another ten days organising his deportation.
The 40-year-old from Newton Aycliffe, in County Durham, admitted drinking wine on board the Emirates airline flight but blames staff for plying him with free drinks without him realising he needed dispensation to consume alcohol.
He has always denied touching the woman- a stewardess he was said to have slapped on the bottom- saying the cabin crew had bumped his arm several times throughout the flight as they past him in an aisle seat.
He said: “There were no complaints made about me until we were close to landing when the senior flight attendant started saying I’d done this stuff, shouting I was going crazy but I was just protesting my innocence.
“Next I knew the captain announced that Terry Harrison would be arrested and when we landed and everything went wrong.
“The days in detention were mind numbing and the whole experience was frightening.
“People thinking of travelling with the airline need warning.”
One passenger, an Australian who was on the same flight as Mr Harrison with his children, contacted The Northern Echo.
Mark Kirby supported Mr Harrison’s account and said that while his language may have been inappropriate at times, he saw nobody complain about his behaviour which was ‘no worse than marginal’ and ‘if he was drunk, he was a happy drunk’.
Mr Harrison was heading home after three weeks working in New Zealand and blames the incident for his struggle to find work since returning home.
He said: “I’ve done this sort of work six years, overseas the last year or two and am a sound worker, I love it.
“I had a good job lined up which I lost because of this and plans for a house but now my future prospects have diminished very badly.”
A spokeswoman for Emirates said: “Many countries have laws prohibiting offensive behaviour on board aircraft and regularly prosecute unruly and disruptive passengers for such incidents.
"The international community is also currently taking steps to update the Tokyo Convention regarding disruptive passengers, due to the concerns of many governments about the escalation of the severity and frequency of unruly behaviour on board aircraft.”