A TRAWLERMAN who sexually molested an air steward on a flight to Iceland has been jailed for six months.

Fifty-one year-old Gavin Capps later labelled his victim, a "gay boy", as he shouted abuse across the compartment of the Easyjet service to Rekyavkik, Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court was told.

Capps, who pleaded guilty to sexual assault and behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress, was also ordered to sign the sex offenders registers for seven years.

Daniel Calder, prosecuting, said Capps was on a flight to the Icelandic capital on October 3 when he ordered three cans of beer from the drinks service.

Later he approached an air steward, asking if he could obtain more alcohol. But he was told none was available at that time.

Mr Calder said the duty-free service then began and Capps began causing trouble, hiding a 400-cigarette carton under his seat at one point.

One of the stewards warned him about his conduct, the court heard, and turned to face a seat opposite.

Mr Calder said: "The defendant took hold of his left buttock and squeezed with a lot of force."

He told the court the victim felt the defendant place his hand between his buttocks and he immediately confronted him.

Capps claimed he had not touched the steward, the court heard, but the defendant was informed the police would be notified.

He shouted out that the steward "was gay" as he had accused him of "touching his bum".

Mr Calder said Caps continued to heckle the victim, even walking to the front of the plane to berate him while he was completing a report on the incident.

Capps shouted at one point: "You're not British if you think that's sexual assault".

He also claimed that he was taking pictures of the air crew on his mobile phone, the court heard.

When the flight landed in Reykjavík, Capps was arrested and escorted off the plane. And when the return flight landed at Manchester Airport, Capps was detained by British police.

Interviewed by officers, he denied the sexual assault took place but appeared to accept he had abused the steward, the court heard.

Rachel White, defending, said her client accepted it was an "ugly incident" and he had initially denied involvement due to the "embarrassment and shame" he felt over his behaviour.

She told the court Capps, of Ashwood Drive, Grimsby, had lost his trawler job, in Iceland, over his arrest. But the defendant had managed to secure new fish-filleting work and a new place to stay.

Miss White said Capps, who had married in February and also looked after his adult son, suffered from depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.

The court heard he had 30 previous convictions for 108 offences, having last been before the bench in 2018 on a battery charge.

Jailing him, Judge Bernadette Baxter said that, not for the first time, the defendant's drinking had landed him in trouble.

But the judge told him his conduct, at this time, was more serious as it was within a confined aircraft and in front of young children and other passengers.

Judge Baxter added that his victim "didn't go to work to be abused by people like you".

The judge though rejected an application for a restraining order, which would have barred Capps from any future Easyjet flights, as she felt the airline could put measures in place to restrict his travel with the company.