Buck Branded 'Drunken Lout' In U.K. Trial

R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck overturned a breakfast trolley, mistook a stranger for his wife, and scuffled with crew members after getting drunk aboard a trans-Atlantic flight last April, prosecutors s

R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck overturned a breakfast trolley, mistook a stranger for his wife, and scuffled with crew members after getting drunk aboard a trans-Atlantic flight last April, prosecutors said at his trial in London today (March 18). Prosecution lawyer David Bate said Buck behaved like a "drunken lout" aboard the Seattle-to-London flight. The 45-year-old guitarist denies charges of being drunk on an aircraft, committing assault, and damaging British Airways crockery.

The trial at Isleworth Crown Court is expected to last eight days. The case first went to trial last fall, but on the second day, the judge abruptly dismissed the jury with the explanation, "matters have arisen which necessitate that this trial cannot proceed at the moment."

Bate said Buck, who was traveling to Britain to promote R.E.M.'s latest Warner Bros. album "Reveal," drank about 15 glasses of wine in the first three hours of the flight. He became increasingly unruly, staggering up the aisle of the Boeing 747 and at one point becoming lodged between two seats, the prosecutor charged.

"The defendant staggered to the lavatory on a number of occasions. A passenger complained later to the aircrew about the state of the lavatory," Bate said. "When they inspected the floor it was found to be wet."

After the crew refused to serve him more alcohol, Buck tried to take more bottles from the galley, Bate said. He reportedly overturned a breakfast trolley -- sending crockery and food flying -- mistook a hostess trolley for a CD player, claimed a stranger sitting on the plane was his wife, and tussled with crew members, covering them with yogurt. He also punched a wall of the plane "with considerable force" and tried to slip a knife up his sleeve, Bate said.

Bate said Buck, who appeared in court wearing a navy blue pinstriped suit, white shirt, and dark blue tie, "lost it" when confronted about his behavior. The lawyer said Buck told police that he was sorry for his behavior and that he had "acted like a jerk going on vacation." Bate said Buck's lawyers had indicated they would raise celebrity status as an issue in his defense.


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