Fired RIM Execs 'Chewed Through Restraints' In Flight

First Posted: 12/09/11 08:33 PM ET Updated: 12/13/11 02:35 AM ET

Air Canada

New details are emerging about the rowdy behaviour of two Research In Motion executives who were fired for disrupting a transcontinental flight -- including that they managed to chew their way out of restraints and wound up being subdued by other passengers until the plane landed.

George Campbell, 45, and Paul Alexander Wilson, 38, each pleaded guilty to mischief for disrupting a Nov. 30 flight from Toronto to Beijing.

The plane landed instead in Vancouver, where a court later ordered them to pay $72,000 in restitution. They also received suspended sentences and were placed on parole for a year.

RIM fired both men after investigating what happened, but little information has been made public about what was so disruptive about their behaviour.

However, court documents obtained by CBC News paint a very chaotic picture.

The pair seemed heavily intoxicated from the start of the flight, according to one passenger. They drank, passed out, and woke up to continue consuming alcohol and yelling at one another.

Campbell was described as a "rowdy and abusive" passenger who at one point warned that he would "off people when they left the plane," according to the Crown prosecutor.

One of the men also "assaulted a flight attendant and threatened to punch another," the prosecution said in court.

Crew members tried repeatedly to subdue the pair, but they kept struggling to get free, "verbally abusing" people on board and eventually "chewed their way through their restraints."

Diverted to closer airport

As the situation escalated, the pilots decided to divert the plane to Anchorage. But the situation become so dire that they opted for the Vancouver airport, which was closer.

During the final 80 minutes of the flight, "several flight attendants and a couple of passengers" restrained the two men and the crew initiated a "lockdown situation" so that no one was allowed to leave their seats.

The prosecutor in the case called Campbell and Wilson's conduct "way over the top."

"The repercussions for the company as well as every single person on the plane, both financially and perhaps even emotionally, are going to be huge."

Air Canada pegged its losses for diverting the flight at nearly $200,000 and RIM issued a statement saying that the conduct did not fit with the company's "standards of business behaviour."

The two men were on a week-long business trip for the BlackBerry maker, but they were arrested after the flight landed in Vancouver.

Both men live near Waterloo, Ont., where RIM is headquartered.

Campbell refused to comment on the incident when reached by phone on Friday. Air Canada issued a statement but would not answer questions about the case.

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Filed by Christian Cotroneo  |