R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck walked free from court today (April 5) after a London jury acquitted him of going on a drunken rampage on a trans-Atlantic flight. Buck was cleared of assault, being drunk on an aircraft, and damaging British Airways crockery during a flight from Seattle to London last April.
Buck sighed audibly and wiped his brow as the jury, which had deliberated for five-and-a-half hours, gave its verdict. Reading from a statement outside Isleworth Crown Court in west London, Buck’s lawyer said the guitarist was relieved.
“I am grateful to the court, the jury and my lawyers, to my family, friends and supporters who have stood by me throughout this experience,” said Neill Blundell on Buck’s behalf. “I am obviously relieved to be finished here and I look forward to be returning my attention to my family, my band, and music,” Blundell added for his client.
Buck, who stood with bandmates Michael Stipe and Mike Mills and held hands with his wife Stephanie, declined to comment, although he replied “yes” when asked by reporters if he would fly home on British Airways.
During the lengthy trial, prosecutors said the rock star had acted like a “drunken lout” after consuming 15 glasses of wine on the flight. They said he overturned a breakfast trolley, mistook a hostess trolley for a CD player, claimed a stranger was his wife, and tussled with crew members, covering them with yogurt. Crew members testified they pulled Buck away from an exit door after he announced he was “going home” mid-flight.
Buck testified he had suffered a bad reaction to the combination of a sleeping pill and red wine and had no memory of his alleged actions.
British Airways said today it accepted the verdict. “We accept the court’s decision,” said a spokesman on condition of anonymity. “We will continue to treat allegations of assault on our staff and drunkenness on aircraft extremely seriously and support any prosecutions.”
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