Jun 20, 2008
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Naomi Campbell spared jail over police assault

Jun 20, 2008

LONDON, June 20, 2008 (AFP) - British supermodel Naomi Campbell was ordered Friday JHune 20th to do 200 hours of community service for assaulting two police officers trying to eject her from a plane after a furious row over lost luggage.

Naomi Campbell in Uxbridge - Photo : AFP

Magistrates in Uxbridge, west London, could have sent the 38-year-old runway diva to prison for up to six months and fined her a maximum of 5,000 pounds (6,300 euros, 9,900 dollars) on each of the three assault charges she faced.

Instead, they ordered that she carry out 200 hours of community service within 12 months for subjecting the captain of the British Airways jet and police to a barrage of foul-mouthed abuse, spitting and lashing out.

She was also told to pay 200 pounds each to the two officers, 150 pounds to the captain -- all of whom she accused of targeting her because she was black -- and fines totalling 2,300 pounds.

Last year Campbell did five days of community service in a New York City sanitation warehouse for having thrown a mobile phone at a housemaid. She was also sentenced to undergo two days of anger management therapy.

Shortly before her sentencing Friday, the French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent -- whose suit was in the model's missing case -- announced in Paris that she would front its autumn-winter 2008-2009 advertising campaign.

Her lawyer said she was "genuinely apologetic" for the latest incident -- which happened when her flight was about to leave Heathrow's brand-new Terminal Five, where baggage handling had spilled into highly-publicised chaos.

Judge Peter Yiacoumi said her sentence took into account her guilty pleas and previous good character.

"These offences are aggravated because they were committed within a lengthy incident in a confined space on an aircraft," he said.

"Whilst we accept that the loss of your suitcase would have been stressful your subsequent behaviour cannot be justified."

Earlier, prosecutor Melanie Parrish told the court that Campbell had initially been friendly and professional when she boarded the Los Angeles-bound flight.

But she became irate after Captain Miles Sutherland told passengers that take-off could be delayed because problems that dogged the first two weeks of newly-opened Terminal 5 meant that not all luggage had been loaded.

She was then told one of her bags -- containing the Yves Saint Laurent outfit that she was contracted to wear on a US chat show -- had not been loaded onto the airplane.

She flew into a rage at Sutherland, who had come out of the cockpit to explain the situation and outline what steps she could take, ordering him to get off the aircraft and find the bag himself.

"To say that this process was difficult would be something of an understatement. Miss Campbell made no attempt to listen to him and talked over him, stating, 'I don't want to hear'," Parrish said.

Parrish said the model was then heard to say on her mobile phone: "They have lost my fucking bags, get me another flight, get the press, get me my lawyer."

She then shouted at Sutherland: "How dare you tell me what my options are? You are not leaving until you find my fucking bags."

As he walked away, she added: "You are a racist. You wouldn't be doing this if I was white."

Concerned cabin crew called police but Campbell refused to move, despite being told four times that she was going to be forcibly ejected, the court heard.

Parrish said that as one police officer reached forward to try to take Campbell's arm, the model "went berserk, thrashing her arms around uncontrollably", hitting the officer on the arm with her phone.

The officer's colleague was then kicked in the thigh by Campbell's stiletto-heeled boots in a struggle that forced the only other first class passenger to move to the staff kitchen for safety, she said.

Campbell then caught the first officer on the arm with spit, prompting him to arrest her for assault, Parrish said.

She became more violent as they tried to remove her, shouting "don't touch me", kicking out and telling the officers: "It is because I am a black woman. You are all racists. I am going to sue you. I am going to fuck you."by Phil Hazlewood

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