'It was terrific!': Blue star Lee Ryan jokes after avoiding jail for racially-aggravated assault on black female BA flight attendant who he told 'I want your chocolate children' after downing bottle of port on flight to London

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  • Reading time:16 min(s) read

  • Pop singer, 40, was convicted of attacking attendant Leah Gordon in January 

Blue star Lee Ryan joked that his day in court was ‘terrific’ after dodging jail following his racially aggravated assault on a black British Airways flight attendant whom he told: ‘I want your chocolate children.’

Ryan, 40, was handed a 12-month suspended prison sentence after attacking Leah Gordon and behaving in an abusive way towards her on July 31 last year, having earlier pleaded guilty to being drunk on an aircraft, for which he was handed a four-month jail term to run concurrently. 

Asked by reporters outside Isleworth Crown Court how the hearing went, Ryan replied: ‘Oh, it was terrific, thank you very much.’

Passing sentence at Isleworth Crown Court, His Honour Judge Nicholas Wood told Ryan that he was fortunate to avoid an immediate custodial sentence – adding that the term was being suspended because of the remorse he had shown and because of the singer’s psychological condition.

The judge told Ryan: ‘You brought shame on yourself for this. I think you are aware of that.’

Blue singer Lee Ryan has walked free from court after handed a suspended sentence for his racially aggravated assault on a British Airways flight attendant

Blue singer Lee Ryan has walked free from court after handed a suspended sentence for his racially aggravated assault on a British Airways flight attendant

The All Rise singer has been ordered to pay compensation to two flight attendants - including one he referred to as a 'chocolate cookie'

The All Rise singer has been ordered to pay compensation to two flight attendants – including one he referred to as a ‘chocolate cookie’ 

Ryan covered his face as he walked into Isleworth Crown Court to be sentenced on Thursday

Ryan covered his face as he walked into Isleworth Crown Court to be sentenced on Thursday

Leah Gordon was a flight attendant on Ryan's plane
The Blue singer called her a 'chocolate cookie' before grabbing her wrists

Leah Gordon (above) was a flight attendant on Ryan’s plane in July last year. The Blue singer called her a ‘chocolate cookie’ before grabbing her wrists

READ MORE: Lee Ryan reveals he is set to become a father for the fifth time! Blue singer, 40, says he is expecting his third child with his wife Verity Paris

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He added: ‘The language you used may be acceptable in the entertainment industry, but it has no place on an aircraft being directed by cabin crew.’

Alongside the suspended sentence, Ryan was ordered to pay £2,500 compensation to Ms Gordon plus £750 to her colleague within three months.

One Love singer Ryan covered his face with his suit jacket as he approached the entrance of Isleworth Crown Court in west London on Thursday morning.

He had been described as ‘slurring his words and staggering around’ after downing an entire bottle of port in a lounge at Glasgow Airport before his flight to London City on July 31 last year.

After he was refused more alcohol on the plane and told to return to his seat, Ryan Ryan had approached Ms Gordon from behind, saying he needed a kiss from her before he got off the plane.

He made comments about Ms Gordon’s looks, calling her a ‘chocolate cookie’ before grabbing her wrists.

Police footage showed Ryan ‘snarling’ and swearing at officers. The incident came just months after Ryan, 39, married Verity Paris, a singer who appeared on The X Factor in 2009.

Sentencing Ryan, Judge Wood added: ‘You caused more than minor psychological distress to Ms Gordon. It was your decision and your decision alone to get drunk.’

Footage emerged of the moment Ryan was removed from the British Airways flight at London City Airport by armed police before being arrested

Footage emerged of the moment Ryan was removed from the British Airways flight at London City Airport by armed police before being arrested

Lee Ryan was seen gathering his belongings as police escorted him off the plane at London City Airport in July last year

Lee Ryan was seen gathering his belongings as police escorted him off the plane at London City Airport in July last year

But explaining his reasons for not handing Ryan a custodial sentence, the judge said he was swayed by a number of psychological reports which detailed the singer’s mental condition.

These showed that he has been diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; Dyslexia; ADHD and also struggles with alcohol abuse.

A psychologist also claimed that Ryan was prone to risky behaviour and also had a lack of insight about how to deal with ‘personal dynamics.’

Judge Wood said: ‘If he (Ryan) didn’t have these (disorders) he would have been better able to interpret the situation that he should not have boarded a plan drunkenly.

‘Suffering from these impairments and disorders has reduced your culpability.’

The judge said that he had also hand Ryan a suspended sentence because he believed that the incident had ‘brought him to his senses.’

He added: ‘I believe that no further offending is likely to take place from you, this has brought you to your senses. It’s a shame that it was in such serious circumstances and that you caused such grief to those on the plane.’

The judge added that while the incident only lasted 10 or 15 minutes: ‘It seemed like a lifetime for everybody on that plane.’ 

Ryan appeared relieved as he left the dock and exited the court. He was accompanied by his mother Sheila.

The judge said that he also took into account Ryan’s domestic situation, which also led to him imposing a suspended sentence and that he had a third child on the way.

The singer was 'slurring his words and staggering around' on the British Airways flight last July

The singer was ‘slurring his words and staggering around’ on the British Airways flight last July

The singer spoke with police officers after he was taken off the plane

The singer spoke with police officers after he was taken off the plane

Ryan’s trial heard details of how the singer made degrading comments towards staff and claimed to have been ‘harassed’ by other travellers. 

Flight attendant Jade Smith said during the proceedings: ‘He told me he was being harassed by other passengers, that he was famous and asked did I know who he was.’ 

Ms Gordon told Ealing Magistrates’ Court that Ryan initially called her ‘beautiful’ and put his sunglasses on her face. She said: ‘He was making comments about my complexion, ‘you’re my chocolate darling, my chocolate cookie, and I’m going to have your chocolate children’.’

Ryan, who was tearful in the dock before giving evidence, told the court his actions were merely ‘playful’ and denied use of the word chocolate was racist. 

He told police officers in an interview, read to the court: ‘I wish I could ring her up and apologise and offer her some Blue tickets for the next tour.’

She went on: ‘It felt like he was saying I was beautiful for a black person because of the way he was describing my colour.’

The bench at Ealing Magistrates’ Court found the ‘racially aggravated element was proved’, with chair Mr Badral saying: ‘We believe the language was demeaning and derogatory. We cannot accept the choice of the wording was simple banter.’

In video footage of the arrest at the London airport, played in court, Ryan could be seen crying on the floor and repeatedly saying ‘I’ve done nothing wrong’.

He was also warned several times by PC Bryett to stop trying to bite him.

Luke Bowyer, prosecuting, said Ryan was ‘snarling’ at officers before ‘sobbing uncontrollably’.

He also told the court: ‘You’ve got a celebrity who believes he is entitled to harassing a woman.’

Writing on the band's Instagram account following the incident, the singer revealed he would be 'seeking professional help' for his mental health and will 'take ownership'

Writing on the band’s Instagram account following the incident, the singer revealed he would be ‘seeking professional help’ for his mental health and will ‘take ownership’

Ryan downed an entire bottle of port in the British Airways lounge at Glasgow Airport before boarding the London City flight and trying to order more alcohol

Ryan downed an entire bottle of port in the British Airways lounge at Glasgow Airport before boarding the London City flight and trying to order more alcohol

Ryan formed boy band Blue in 2000 with Antony Costa, Duncan James and Simon Webbe. The group has sold some 14million records and had three Number 1 albums. 

Blue rounded off their latest UK tour, Heart and Soul, just before Christmas. Their biggest hits include All Rise, One Love and Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.

Last year Ryan married Verity Paris, a singer thought to be 32 who appeared on The X Factor in 2009 and now impersonates artists such as Ariana Grande, Jessie J, Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera – but who stays away from the spotlight. 

Ryan has four children – two teenagers with former partners Jessica Keevil and Samantha Miller and has two younger children, including a baby, with Ms Paris, with whom he is expecting a fifth child.

Ms Gordon said Ryan later approached her from behind, saying: ‘Before I get off this plane I need a kiss from you.’

After telling him to ‘stay away’, she said he grabbed both her wrists before passengers intervened.

She said: ‘He was towering over me, like he was leaning in to give me a kiss.

‘He said to me ‘I want your chocolate children’.’

She added: ‘I was intimidated, I felt a bit embarrassed like I wasn’t doing my duty properly. To get comments about my colour whether intentional or not, it was just unacceptable and so derogatory. I just felt like it wasn’t fair and I shouldn’t have to put up with it. I don’t go to work to be assaulted or harassed.’

Lee Ryan is best known for being a member of boyband Blue alongside Duncan James, Simon Webbe and Anthony Costa

Lee Ryan is best known for being a member of boyband Blue alongside Duncan James, Simon Webbe and Anthony Costa

He later told the court that he had no recollection of the incident and insisted: 'I'm not racist'

He later told the court that he had no recollection of the incident and insisted: ‘I’m not racist’

Ryan, who was tearful in the dock before giving evidence, said he drank a whole bottle of port and ate cheese in the BA lounge after the flight was delayed.

He told the court of ‘annoying’ a passenger next to him by asking what book he was reading, with no recollection of what occurred after that.

The pop star went on: ‘I’m sorry. My band member is black, I’m not racist, I’ve had black girlfriends, mixed-race girlfriends. It was banter, just drunk banter I suppose, there was no malice or intention to upset anyone.’

He added: ‘I didn’t mean to cause any distress to anyone or be racist, it was just a poor choice of words I suppose.’

Ryan told the court his actions were merely ‘playful’ and denied the use of the word chocolate was racist.

He also claimed to have said ‘chocolate chip cookie’, adding: ‘They’re white, there was no malice in them [the comments].

He added: ‘I am sorry that I touched her, but that’s all I did, touch her lightly, by her admission.’

He told police officers in an interview, read to the court: ‘I wish I could ring her up and apologise and offer her some Blue tickets for the next tour.’

Police said Lee tried to bite one of the officers after being arrested at the London airport, to which he replied: ‘I don’t remember that.’

Ryan asked to be upgraded from economy to business class but was refused as the plane was full, it was said.

Ms Smith said: ‘He was angry, saying he was a gold card holder and that he needed to be moved because of this.’

She noticed Ryan was ‘slurring his words and staggering around’ and cut him off from ordering alcohol, the court heard.

Ryan followed her to the back of the plane and asked for another drink but was refused, she said.

He told her ‘stop being boring, let’s have a drink’, the court heard.

LEE RYAN’S CHEQUERED PAST – INCLUDING DRIVING BANS, ALCOHOL STRUGGLES AND BANKRUPTCY

2003: BANNED FROM DRIVING AFTER DRINK-DRIVING

Ryan was banned from driving and was fined £2,250 as a consequence of drink-driving in 2003. 

JUNE 2008: FOUND GUILTY OF ASSAULTING A TAXI DRIVER 

On 31 December 2007, Ryan was arrested for an assault on a taxi driver in Oxted, Surrey. He was released on bail until February 2008.

In June 2008, he was fined £500 and ordered to pay £300 in compensation  and £450 in legal costs after being found guilty of assault at Guildford Magistrates’ Court, according to News Shopper.

AUGUST 2010: CHARGED WITH ASSAULTING HIS NOW EX-FIANCEE 

The singer was charged with assaulting his now ex-fiancee Samantha Miller – the mother of his son Rayn – after allegedly hitting her as they drove through London’s West End. 

The charge was withdrawn that month at the request of his partner.

MAY 2014: BANNED FROM DRIVING FOR TWO YEARS AFTER FAILING TO PROVIDE A SPECIMEN FOR DRINK-DRIVE TEST

Ryan was handed a £3,325 fine and banned from the roads for two years after admitting failing to provide a specimen and causing £120 of criminal damage.

Officers spotted Ryan swerving erratically at 5.30am on April 11, 2014, as he drove his female friend’s Audi A3 on the Uxbridge Road in Ealing.

The court heard that after being taken to a police station, he refused to take a breath test to see if he was over the limit and repeatedly swore at officers, branding one a ‘c***’.

In a police interview, Ryan he told officers he had drunk a vodka and tonic and a rum and Coke, but thought he was OK to drive. 

Ryan was told his two-year driving ban would be cut to 18 months if he completed a drink-driving course.

APRIL 2015: SINGER DECLARES HIMSELF BANKRUPT 

The singer officially filed papers in Central London County Court in April 2015.

His spokesperson told MailOnline at the time that his decision came about because he wants to provide the ‘best possible future’ for his two children.

The representative said in a statement released to MailOnline: ‘Lee has tried to manage his financial commitments from over the years to the best of his abilities but ultimately concedes that bankruptcy is the best way forward in order for him to provide the best future for his children.’

AUGUST 2019: RYAN SPEAKS ABOUT STRUGGLES WITH ALCOHOL

Ryan spoke about his struggles with alcohol and described himself as having been a ‘good alcoholic’ for ten years.

The Blue singer previously told how he would sometimes drink a bottle of whiskey a day to ‘numb the pain’ but he has put those days behind him.

Speaking to The Sun Online at the time, he said: ‘I still struggle now and again. I struggle in my own way that I don’t use drink to forget and that was the point.’

He said that he’s happy he never became dependent on drugs but added that he ‘dabbled’ with them in the past.

Ryan gave up alcohol when he appeared on Strictly Come Dancing last year but began drinking again following his appearance on the show.

In Blue’s memoir All Rise, he also said he was in a shaky mental state when he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2014. 

AUGUST 2020: BANNED FROM DRIVING FOR SIX MONTHS AFTER SPEEDING TWICE 

Ryan was banned from driving for six months after being caught speeding twice within three months.

He admitted doing 85mph in a Mercedes on the M1 motorway near Sheffield on May 19, 2019.

He was then caught doing 58mph in a 50mph zone in the same car while driving through Eltham, south-east London, on August 14, 2019, and failed to respond to police about who was driving the vehicle.

Ryan, who had nine points on his licence, was disqualified from driving for six months, handed a £120 fine and told to pay costs of £142 – totalling £262. 

JULY 2021: HE DENIES CLAIMS OF TRANSPHOBIA AFTER FOUL-MOUTHED ATTACK ON A DRAG QUEEN

Last year, Ryan furiously denied claims he is transphobic or homophobic after he became embroiled in a vicious spat with a drag queen on Instagram.

He sarcastically commented on gender identity, posting to his 172,000 followers: ‘I might start identifying myself as an alien / star / seed / indigo child. Anything but human. Please respect my wishes.’

After the post, drag queen Layla Zee Susan – real name Sammy Shepherd – challenged him for his ‘insensitive’ comments with Ryan launching a foul-mouthed attack on Layla.

Discussing the fallout with The Sun, Ryan said: ‘I’m bisexual and my bandmate is gay – I would never disrespect anyone like that.

‘I normally ignore things like that but it’s like somebody calling me racist when I’m not. Duncan’s constantly dressing in drag, he’s gay, Blue has a big [gay] following – so this really upset me.

‘Some of my best friends are gay. I didn’t say one thing about him being in drag.’   

AUGUST 2021: BANNED FROM DRIVING FOR 12 MONTHS

The singer was disqualified from driving for 12 months and fined £660 as he appeared at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court via remote link from Spain.

He said he had no money after he was ordered to pay £1,501 in total, including court costs, telling the court: ‘I just don’t have any money.’

Court papers said he was charged with driving a Mercedes at 70mph in a 60mph limit on an A-road in Peterborough, Fletton Parkway, on August 8, 2020, and driving a Mercedes at 71mph on the same road on August 22, 2020.

These charges were dismissed as the prosecution offered no evidence due to there being no means of proving who was driving.

Ryan went on trial for two counts of failing to give information relating to the identification of the driver when required, and was found guilty by magistrates.

Ryan was handed two lots of six points against his licence, resulting in a disqualification from driving for 12 months. 

APRIL 2022: COMPANY GOES BUST FOLLOWING DEBTS 

It was revealed his company had gone bust with debts totalling £69,000.

Lee Bee Ltd was placed into voluntary liquidation due to owing the huge amount, including an estimated £15,000 to HMRC and £50,000 to Metro Bank.

The firm, which was set up in 2019, had no money to pay out to its creditors and began to be wound up by liquidator Stuart Rathmell on March 17.  

The debts also include £4,000 owed to the Blue singer, 38, who is the sole director.

According to records, his only other active company Catch A Dream Productions Ltd filed accounts on March 23, which revealed debts of £2,175. 

JULY 2022: ARRESTED AND REMOVED FROM FLIGHT 

Ryan was removed from a British Airways flight by armed police after becoming abusive to cabin crew when they refused to serve him alcohol.

He was arrested by police at London City Airport on suspicion of public order offences, before being released 12 hours later pending further investigation. 

During the flight, staff are believed to have radioed ahead to the authorities on the ground, prompting a police van to meet Ryan on the runway. 

After being removed from the plane, Ryan was handcuffed and arrested on suspicion of public order offences.




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