Update: Judge to rule today in air rage case involving Toronto TV personality

Rosie Mullaley
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TV personality Colleen Walsh will find out this afternoon in St. John's whether or not a judge accepts her version of events aboard a transatlantic flight last spring that led to charges against her in an air rage case that has drawn interest from across the country.
Provincial court Judge Greg Brown will hand down his decision about 2:30 p.m. today.
Walsh, 49, - the former host of the Rogers TV architecture show "Structures" and a former reporter for CBC Radio, Global and CTV - was charged with interfering with the operation of an aircraft, assault and causing a disturbance. A single count under the Aeronautics Act for failing to comply with instructions of a crew member was also laid against her.
The incident happened March 31 onboard an Air Canada flight, which left London en route to Toronto. However, the Boeing 767 had to be diverted to St. John's when a female passenger became ill, fading in and out of consciousness.
Lawyers in the trial made their final arguments this morning.
Defence lawyer Lori Marshall argued Walsh did not interrupt the flight or cause a safety risk to the aircraft, and pointed out she did not cause the diversion to St. John's. She said Walsh complied with the requests of flight attendants who were "clearly overwhelmed" and caused the tension onboard.
She noted that Walsh can express herself forcefully in a way that others may take offence to, something which is not criminal.
Marshall said male passenger Stan Harrington, who said Walsh assaulted him, exaggerated elements of his testimony.
According to the Crown, during the flight, Walsh allegedly became unruly. Flight crew members said she was intoxicated, shouting, cursing and hit Harrington in the head. It resulted in her having to be escorted off the plane when it landed in St. John's. The Crown stated her behaviour reportedly didn't get any better once inside the terminal, according to testimony from an airport security guard and several police officers.
Federal Crown prosecutor Mark Stares argued that based on the testimony at trial, Walsh was told several times to return to her seat but didn't. He said that was a safety issue, as it is important to keep the aisles clear.
He also noted Walsh accused all other witnesses of lying, but it was her who's evidence was not credible.
Provincial Crown prosecutor Wendy Zdebiak noted that everyone who testified for the Crown in the case are all professionals, and that there is no evidence they conspired against her in any way.
Zbebiak said Walsh contradicted herself during her testimony in some areas and noted the court got a sense of her temperament and personality in the way she acted while on the witness stand.
"She's easily offended," the prosecutor said. "It's clear to see she would be a difficult passenger to deal with."
Zbebiak said Walsh expected individual attention one might expect on planes in earlier days, and wasn't able accept her role as a passenger.

Organizations: CBC Radio, Air Canada, Boeing 767

Geographic location: St. John's, Toronto, London

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