Teacher Katherine Goldberg groped air steward on flight

Katherine Goldberg
Image caption Katherine Goldberg has since admitted to having an alcohol problem

A teacher who assaulted an air steward while under an "alcohol-induced illusion" has been spared jail.

Katherine Goldberg, 25, was on a night flight from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Heathrow in August when the incident happened, Isleworth Crown Court heard.

She earlier pleaded guilty to sexual assault and being drunk on an aircraft.

Goldberg, of Ealing, west London, was fined £1,500, and ordered to carry out an 11-month community order and 80 hours of unpaid work.

She must also pay £250 costs.

The court heard Goldberg was returning from visiting her boyfriend and grandparents in South Africa where she had been celebrating the end of her teaching exams.

She took two bottles of alcohol on to the Virgin Atlantic flight and was so drunk she became under the "alcohol-induced illusion" the steward was her boyfriend, the court was told.

'Antics changed'

Prosecutor James O'Connell said staff moved her to the plane's galley after she "irritated" other passengers by disturbing them as they tried to rest.

It was as one of the cabin crew tried to calm her down that her "antics changed and became rather sexual", Mr O'Connell said.

The court was told she groped the man through his trousers and kept making offers to him.

She was heard to tell the air steward: "Let me and you go somewhere. You can touch me anywhere you want, I don't mind."

Mr O'Connell said: "In her complete alcoholic funk she was confusing him with her current boyfriend, Clayton, and Owen, a previous boyfriend.

"She was somehow imagining this was her boyfriend with whom she was interacting."

Not a danger

Goldberg, of Crosslands Avenue, had no recollection of the events on board when she was met by police at Heathrow but was very apologetic.

She has been suspended from her job as a teacher and has since admitted to having an alcohol problem, the court heard.

Passing sentence, Judge Andrew McDowall said none of the other passengers had been in any danger during the flight and Goldberg did not have to be restrained at any stage.

He said: "You have now reached that vital stage of acknowledging that you have a problem and also showing a willingness to do something about it."

He added: "It is quite apparent that you are not a menace to children."

The judge said he hoped she would be allowed to continue to teach despite the sexual assault conviction.

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