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Drunk pilot arrested before flight to New York had opened bottle of Jagermeister

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A pilot who attempted to captain a transatlantic flight while more than twice the alcohol limit has been jailed for 10 months.

Captain Lawrence Russell, 63, was stopped in Edinburgh Airport wearing his pilot’s uniform and a Delta Airlines lanyard after an X-ray machine rejected his carry-on luggage as he went to board a Boeing 767 headed to New York on June 16.

Prosecutors said he jeopardised “hundreds of lives” and showed “reckless disregard” for safety after he admitted a charge of reporting for duty as a pilot while being impaired through alcohol.

Russell, from Georgia in the US, was rostered to fly the jet to JFK Airport – but was found to be two-and-a-half times the alcohol limit after a breath test at 9.30am.

An opened bottle of Jagermeister was spotted in his carry-on luggage, along with another which was half-full, prompting concerns.

Russell admitted being the owner, and a sample of blood was taken which showed he had around 49 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

He pleaded guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on March 6 to reporting for duty as a pilot while being impaired through alcohol, contrary to the legal limit of 20 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

Russell was sentenced to 10 months at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Tuesday.

Lynne Barrie, Procurator Fiscal for Lothian and Borders, said: “Lawrence Russell’s conduct would have endangered many lives; the consequences could have been catastrophic.

“He showed a reckless disregard for the safety of his passengers and crew. The pilot of a commercial aircraft holds the lives of hundreds in his hands. He would have put all of them at serious risk.

“This conviction should send the message that crimes of this nature will be robustly dealt with.”

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