• Case is deferred for sentencing to Crown Court
  • She faces up to ten years behind bars for sex assault at 33,000ft

By Nadia Gilani

A woman executive faces jail for groping a male flight steward and demanding sex while drunk on a plane.

Katherine Goldberg, 25, of Ealing Common, London, grabbed the cabin crew member's crotch after drinking a pint of whisky on a Virgin Atlantic flight.

And yesterday she was told she faces up to ten years behind bars for the offence after magistrates ruled that the case was too serious for them to deal with.

Katherine Goldberg arriving at Uxbridge Magistrates Court yesterday where she pleaded guilty to drunkenly groping a male air steward

Katherine Goldberg arriving at Uxbridge Magistrates Court yesterday where she pleaded guilty to drunkenly groping a male air steward

Goldberg pleaded guilty to sexual assault and being drunk on an aircraft at Uxbridge Magistrates Court.

The educational supplies executive has now been bailed to return for sentencing at Isleworth Crown Court next month.

South African Goldberg is understood to have been returning from visiting relatives when the alleged incident took place at 33,000ft on an Airbus A340-600 at 5.30am British time on August 24.

She had made 'strong sexual advances' to the victim during the flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to London Heathrow on August 24, the court heard.

Bench chairwoman, Mary Petley, explained why the case would not be heard at magistrates court: 'The reason we are declining jurisdiction is that if you were drunk on an aircraft and you were sleeping and snoring a bit we could sentence you here.

'But this is rather more serious', she told the defendant.

Kevin Christie, prosecuting said: 'The defendant was drunk in mid-air and groped a male member of the cabin crew.

'She had made strong sexual advances towards the man during the flight.

'Goldberg then groped the groin and testicular area'.

Lawyers for Goldberg, of Ealing Common, London, had attempted to avoid the charge going to court and have the sexual assault charge dealt with by a police caution.

In air: Goldberg assaulted the male crew member on a Virgin Atlantic flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to London Heathrow

In air: Goldberg assaulted the male crew member on a Virgin Atlantic flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to London Heathrow

Speaking at a court hearing last month, solicitor Francis Brennan told magistrates: 'It is a serious allegation but there are good reasons why it would be in the public interest for the Crown to deal with her by way of caution.

'I have told the court that admissions were made in interview and if matters are not dealt with by way of a caution there will be a plea of guilty at the next occasion'.

The allegations come after a court heard how a drunk passenger forced an airline pilot to abort a landing at Manchester airport as she fought cabin crew and other passengers.

Lynn Grimes, 41, had a phobia of flying and drank during most of the easyJet flight from Athens last December. She was invited to sit with cabin crew at the rear of the aircraft because they knew of her condition, but as the plane prepared to land she refused to return to her seat. She kicked a steward in the stomach and grabbed a fellow passenger’s hair and scarf.

Grimes, of South Shields, Tyne and Wear, who said she had run out of Valium for the trip, admitted endangering an aircraft and two assaults. At Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester, she was given an eight-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months.