Prosecutor Slams R.E.M. Guitarist at Trial

R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck overturned a breakfast trolley, mistook a stranger for his wife and scuffled with crew members after getting drunk aboard a trans-Atlantic flight, witnesses and prosecutors said at his trial Monday.

Prosecution lawyer David Bate said Buck behaved like a "drunken lout" aboard the Seattle-to-London flight in April.

Buck, 45, who lives in Seattle, denies charges of being drunk on an aircraft, committing assault and damaging British Airways crockery.

Bate said Buck, who was traveling to Britain to promote the Georgia band's album Reveal, drank about 15 glasses of wine in the first three hours of the flight. He became increasingly unruly, staggering up the aisle of the Boeing 747 and at one point becoming lodged between two seats, the prosecutor charged.

After the crew refused to serve him more alcohol, Buck tried to take more bottles from the galley, Bate said.

As his behavior worsened, Bate said, Buck overturned a breakfast trolley — sending crockery and food flying — mistook a hostess trolley for a CD player, claimed a stranger sitting on the plane was his wife and tussled with crew members, covering them with yogurt.

Flight attendant Nara Incecchi said she grappled with the drunken guitarist after he announced he was "going home" while standing near an exit door.

Incecchi said she grabbed Buck's hand and pulled it away from a control panel.

Buck also punched a wall of the plane "with considerable force" and tried to slip a knife up his sleeve, Bate claimed.

Capt. Tom Payne warned the musician about his behavior and told him police would be called to meet the flight if he did not calm down.

Bate said Buck, who appeared in court wearing a navy blue pinstriped suit, white shirt and dark blue tie, "lost it" when confronted about his behavior.

"He said to the captain, 'I am R.E.M. and I can make up a story that I was assaulted'," Bate said.

"Perhaps he is not used to being told what he can and cannot do," Bate added.

Buck eventually fell asleep, Bate said.

The lawyer said Buck told police that he was sorry for his behavior and that he had "acted like a jerk going on vacation."

The trial at Isleworth Crown Court in west London is expected to last eight days.