A British couple have been hauled before the courts after they were spotted drunkenly engaging in "amorous" foreplay at the back of a plane before it had even taken off.

Christopher Pickering, 45, and girlfriend Rebecca Cross, 37, pleaded guilty to being drunk on a British Airways flight from Heathrow to Marseille, France last year.

Prosecutor Ravinder Johal said as the plane taxied near the runway at around 5:30pm on September 16, 2019, a cabin crew member caught Cross with her stockings off and her legs high in the air.

The passengers had booked seats on the emergency exit row near the wings, but cabin crew at Heathrow decided the couple were too intoxicated to sit there for safety reasons and were moved to the back row before a member of staff noticed what they were up.

Pickering was viewed as having his hand in her crotch area, but as authorities could not decide what the randy pair were up to, they were only convicted of with entering an aircraft when drunk.

Pickering was handed a £2,000 fine, whilst Cross was given a 12-month community order and forced to undertake 60 hours of unpaid work.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Mr Johal told the court that the defendants were due to take the flight from Heathrow to Marseille, but Valerie Hughes, an experienced cabin crew member, gave instructions that Mr Pickering and Miss Cross were not to be sat in the exit seats "due to their state of intoxication."

The prosecutor said: "She felt that they shouldn't be allowed to remain on the flight, but were in fact seated in the 25th row. A member of the public was moved from their seat to not cause offence.

"Ms Hughes noticed Miss Cross had her legs hanging, they were open wide and raised in the air. The male had her left hand on the vagina area and was moving his hand up and down.

"She said, 'what do you think you're doing?' The couple froze and the man kept his hand on the vagina area," he continued.

"She instructed her to put her dress down. The flight had not taken off.

"They were taken to the London Heathrow police station and admitted to the charge."

Pickering, of Dunstable in Bedfordshire, and Cross, of Abingdon, Oxfordshire, had said they had "five or six drinks" in the lounge in two hours while they waited for the delayed flight.

Carl Woolf, defending both Cross and Pickering, said: "It's very clear from the air stewardess there was some amorous behaviour, but she didn't directly see any masturbation or penetration."

"It was not appropriate behaviour on a plane, but as they say in their letter they are thoroughly ashamed and thoroughly apologetic."

He added that the flight was delayed by two to three hours, which is why the defendants had sat in the lounge and consumed alcohol to excess.

Sentencing, Judge Wood said: "I give you credit for pleading guilty and I will reduce the fine that I'm about to impose by a third.

"I sentence you for being drunk on an aircraft and even though that it in itself is serious, the courts have said there's a distinction between being offensive on an aircraft at 30,000 feet and on being offensive on an aircraft as it is being taxied on the ground.

"You were deemed too drunk to sit in the emergency exit row, and were ordered to sit at the back of the plane.

"I'm not going to sentence you for any charges for the behaviour afterwards, embarrassing and shocking as it may be to anyone who saw it.

"But I can't ignore it, it seems to me, because it is a part of the drunken behaviour.

"No doubt what you did is known to your colleagues at work and I accept you are thoroughly ashamed of yourselves."