Irish Jockey Jailed Two Months for Setting Fire on Plane

Top Irish jockey Paul Carberry was sentenced to two months in jail May 24 for setting fire to a newspaper aboard a flight from Spain to Dublin.

Carberry, 32, winner of the Grand National in 1999, had pleaded not guilty to charges of engaging in threatening, abusive, or insulting behavior on the Aer Lingus flight Oct. 1.

At Swords District Court in Dublin, Justice Patrick Brady described Carberry's defense as "contrived."

The judge said he had to consider the seriousness of the risk to passengers on a plane traveling at 12,000 feet and the distress Carberry's behavior had caused them.

"I would be failing in my duty if I didn't mark the offense," the judge said.

Brady rejected Carberry's claim that setting the newspaper on fire had been a "freak accident."

"Would the defendant, an experienced jockey, have acted similarly in a stable or a transporter, containing straw and hay?" the judge asked. "I would suggest emphatically not."

In addition to the jail sentence, Carberry was fined euro500 (US$640).

He was freed on bail pending an appeal. Carberry left the court without making any comment.

Carberry won the Grand National at Aintree in 1999 riding Bobbyjo, and was Irish champion jockey in 2002.