R.E.M.'s Buck Cleared Of Air Rage Charges

By | April 8, 2002 at 12:00 AM

R.E.M.’s Peter Buck was cleared of all charges alleging he behaved badly on a trans-Atlantic flight last April.

An Isleworth Crown Court in London found the guitarist not guilty Friday (April 5) of assault, being drunk on an aircraft and damaging airline dishes, plates and other meal-service items, according to a court spokesperson. Buck waited with wife Stephanie and bandmates Michael Stipe and Mike Mills for the jury to render its verdict, which came after a five-and-a-half-hour deliberation.

Buck, 45, was aboard a British Airways flight from Seattle to London on April 21 when he was accused of displaying drunken behavior, assaulting two crew members and upending a service trolley. Upon landing at London’s Heathrow Airport, he was met by police and arrested.

At the trial, the prosecution accused Buck of drinking 15 glasses of wine, getting stuck between seats, dumping yogurt on himself and a crewmember, tearing up a warning from the captain, mistaking one flight attendant’s trolley for a stereo and choking another with his necktie, among other acts. After the first day in court (November 12), the judge dismissed the jury and scheduled a retrial to begin March 4 for undisclosed reasons.

For his defense, Buck blamed his actions on mixing a sleeping pill with a glass of wine, though he couldn’t supply an answer when prosecutors asked why he didn’t tell police about taking the pill upon his arrest. Last month, Stipe and U2 singer Bono testified before the court as character witnesses (see “Bono At Peter Buck’s Trial: ‘This Is Ridiculous’ “; and “Michael Stipe Takes Stand In Peter Buck’s Air Rage Trial”).

Buck was on his way to perform with R.E.M. at the South Africa Freedom Day Concert in front of Nelson Mandela when the incident allegedly occurred. His bandmates, Stipe and Mills, were aboard a different flight.

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