A Galway man who refused to wear a mask during a flight from Dublin to New York and threw a can at another passenger faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of assault, the US Justice Department said.
29-year-old Shane McInerney is alleged to have behaved this way on a Delta Airlines flight on the 7th of January.
He appeared before a judge in New York a week later and was charged with "intentionally assaulting and intimidating a member of a flight crew," according to a criminal complaint unsealed yesterday.
It said the suspect repeatedly refused to wear a mask, threw a beverage can and hit a passenger in the head, and "pulled down his pants."
A court spokesman said that if convicted, Mr McInerney could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.
It is reported that Mr McInerney was headed to Florida to take up a job at a football academy.
He was released on $20,000 (€17,630) bail as he awaits trial.
The Federal Aviation Administration said in January 2021 it would observe a zero tolerance policy toward people who reject federal rules mandating mask-wearing on US domestic flights.
This came as flight attendants reported a high number of incidents of verbal and physical abuse from travellers who refuse to wear a mask.
An American Airlines plane headed from Miami to London turned around in mid-flight Thursday because a passenger refused to wear a mask.