Mother of Briton in US airstrike incident says she is in shock after learning he faces 20 years in prison
The mother of a British holidaymaker who faces up to 20 years in prison after being detained by the FBI for an air raid incident has expressed her surprise at hearing his arrest.
US prosecutors said Damien Murphy and his friend Anthony Kirby, both 36, were detained for their extremely disruptive behavior on board a flight to Manchester from Mexico.
The pair reportedly partied with other holiday friends over New Year’s weekend, but their flight home was diverted to make an unscheduled landing in the US.
About six armed officers boarded the Tui flight from Cancun shortly after it was forced to land at Maine’s Bangor International Airport Monday night after it was alleged the pair had verbally and physically assaulted passengers and crew.
Pictured: Damien Jake Murphy (left) and Anthony Joseph James Kirby (right), both 36 and from Manchester, were detained by US officers and charged with federal crimes. They could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted
Damien’s mother Joanne Rafter spoke today of her shock when she learned of her son’s arrest and the threat he faced
Damien Murphy was detained for their extremely disruptive behavior on board a flight to Manchester from Mexico
In a video filmed by a passenger, the first man, carrying a black bag and a red plastic bag, walks down the aisle laughing as police escort him, followed by his friend, who pushes past an officer.
The two then engage in a verbal altercation with others on board, with one yelling, “Get off.” One of the men responds by yelling, “F**got.” A third man dressed in black quietly walks out of the plane, followed by the American police.
Murphy and Kirby, both from Manchester, have been charged with federal offenses and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. A third man, whose name has not been released, has not been charged.
Damien’s mother Joanne Rafter spoke today of her shock when she learned of her son’s arrest and the threat he faced.
She told MailOnline, “I don’t know what’s going on. We haven’t spoken to Damien yet. It’s all a shock.
“We knew he was going on vacation, but I don’t know if they were all friends before or if he met on vacation.”
Ms Rafter added: ‘We only found out about the arrest yesterday when someone contacted me to say it was on the internet.
‘I’ve seen the footage, but I don’t know anything else. We’ll have to see what happens now.’
Relatives of Anthony Kirby at his nearby home refused to discuss his arrest.
Exclusive footage given to MailOnline shows three British men being taken from a plane by US Federal Police agents as it flew from Mexico to Manchester. The plane was forced to make an unscheduled landing in the US due to their alleged disruptive behavior. Damien Jake Murphy (left) was arrested and charged with Anthony Joseph James Kirby (center). The third man (seen at the rear right of the plane) was not arrested
Damien Jake Murphy (seen in a blue top) carries his belongings as he is taken from the plane by American officers
Anthony Joseph James Kirby is shown dashing past one of the American officers as he is removed from the flight
Kirby and Murphy have been charged with federal felonies and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. The third man, who has not been named, has not been charged.
According to the FBI, their behavior escalated as the plane flew over US airspace.
The men were refused alcohol by the cabin crew, but one of them is said to have taken a bottle from his hand luggage so that they could continue to drink.
They are also accused of making racist remarks about staff and passengers while filming the interactions and assaulting an employee who tried to calm them down.
Moments after the plane made its unexpected stop, one of the arrested men is charged with a fistfight with a passenger.
One holidaymaker, who was on the plane, told MailOnline: ‘It was total chaos on the plane shortly after it took off. It was clear these guys were drunk and out for trouble.
“When the plane landed in Maine, one of the men punched another passenger in the face and yelled, ‘You fat slut.'”
He added: ‘These men didn’t care about anyone, they cursed in front of young families and were a total disgrace. It ruined what had been a wonderful vacation for many people, but we were elated when US police kicked them off the plane. I hope they get what they deserve.’
A third man, who has not been named, was also removed from the flight. He was not arrested or charged by US authorities. He is shown on the left toward the rear of the plane removing his belongings, and on the right as he was removed by US officers
Caroline Farbridge, 56, who was vacationing in Cancun for two weeks, said: ‘The passengers applauded and cheered when the US police came on board because we were so desperate to get these men off.
“They behaved in a truly despicable manner. They were already drunk before they got on the plane, one of them was so paralyzed he could barely walk. I could see they were going to cause trouble and they just wanted to cause trouble for everyone around them.”
She added: “It was quite a horrible, terrifying experience and I don’t understand why the airline allowed these men to board the plane in the drunken state.”
After the men were kicked off the flight, two FBI agents boarded and took witness statements from other passengers before the plane was allowed to continue its journey to Manchester, arriving about four hours late.
Ms Farbridge, who had been on holiday with her daughter, revealed that the captain made several announcements calling on the men to stop drinking and behave or he would be forced to land the plane.
Anthony Joseph James Kirby, one of three men kicked off the plane, poses for a photo after seemingly competing in an ‘Ironman’ triathlon. He was arrested by US officials for causing flight disruption and has been charged
Anthony Joseph James Kirby poses with an unnamed woman
The plane was diverted to Bangor International Airport in Maine (photo, file photo)
She added, “About an hour after the plane took off from Mexico, all you could hear was screaming and yelling coming from the back of the plane and it didn’t stop. These men were a real nuisance, they should hang their heads in shame.
“The captain has warned them enough, so they have only themselves to blame. I hope they stay locked up for a long time. The whole crew behaved very professionally and the captain did absolutely the right thing by landing the plane to get these men off.”
Kirby and Murphy have both been charged with flight crew interference and assault. The charges fell under a special aircraft jurisdiction in the US.
They made their first appearance in federal court in Bangor on Tuesday and face up to 20 years in prison and fines of more than £200,000 if found guilty.
Both were taken into custody after a judge agreed with the US law firm in Maine that they should be held until their case is resolved because they both live outside the country.