Lauren niece in 'air rage' hearing

This Is Lancashire: Niece of fashion designer Ralph Lauren, Jennifer Lauren, arrives at Killaloe District Court Niece of fashion designer Ralph Lauren, Jennifer Lauren, arrives at Killaloe District Court

The niece of fashion designer Ralph Lauren has appeared in court charged with being drunk and abusive on a plane over an alleged air rage incident.

Jennifer Lauren is accused of breaching the peace on board a transatlantic Delta Air Lines flight, which had to be diverted to Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland yesterday afternoon.

Dressed in a smart black dress, coat and boots, the New York-based jewellery designer wept before the hearing and then clutched her hands as she appeared before Killaloe District Court.

The unusual sitting was held in the downstairs function room of the Brian Boru pub - named after the ancient High King of Ireland - as there is no dedicated courthouse in the area.

Ms Lauren was arrested off the plane at Shannon Airport yesterday afternoon and held in custody overnight.

Garda Yvette Walsh told the court that when the jewellery designer was being detained at the airport she told officers: "Can you say that in English please?"

Judge Patrick Durcan heard Ms Lauren was ready to enter a plea to three separate charges but he refused to rule on the case in full and said the plea to the charges would be dealt with at a second hearing tomorrow at Ennis District Court.

More than 200 passengers and crew were on board the flight from Barcelona to New York when the alleged air rage incident took place.

The 41-year-old spent last night in a cell in Shannon Garda Station, where she made no reply when charged under the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1973.

At the hearing in the pub near the banks of the River Shannon, Lauren, of East 65th Street in New York, swore an oath on a Bible before speaking only to confirm her name, nationality and that she only has one passport.

She became emotional and wiped away tears as she spoke with friends before the hearing.

The US national was granted bail on condition she stays at a hotel in Shannon town with her travelling companions and lodges 2,500 euro (£2,075) of her own money to the court.

She has been ordered to sign on at Shannon Garda Station tonight and surrender her passport.

Judge Durcan had refused an initial offer of an 800 euro (£664) lodgment by solicitor Sharon Curley.

He warned that he would have to take account of the nature and extent of the inconvenience to other people, as well as the costs incurred by Delta Air Lines, airport and other passengers.

"These are the issues that will have to be addressed and the court will have to be satisfied before they can be discharged," he said.

The judge asked for an assessment on how much the disruption has cost the airline, airport and passengers before dealing with Lauren's plea at the hearing tomorrow.

The downstairs function room of the Brian Boru on the Hill pub is in Ballina, Co Tipperary - one of the twin towns where the ancient High King of Ireland was born. He ruled from Killaloe, on the other side of the Shannon, from 1002-1014, making it the capital of Ireland.

The licensed premises was packed for the day's court sittings, with the bar area cordoned off with wire mesh.

A representative from the US Embassy in Ireland also met Lauren at the police station yesterday.

Lauren was charged with being intoxicated to such an extent as would give rise to a reasonable apprehension that she might endanger herself or other persons on board the aircraft.

She was accused of engaging in behaviour likely to cause serious offence or annoyance to any person on board the aircraft, after being asked by a crew member to stop.

Lauren also faced a count of breaching the peace by engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour.

She left the licensed premises in a black 4x4 and covered her face as she ducked past photographers into the vehicle.

The case is due to be heard again tomorrow at Ennis District Court where sentencing will be decided on a guilty plea from Lauren.

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