A holidaymaker with Union Jack themed luggage smokes a cigarette outside the terminal building at Manchester Airport. File picture: Phil Noble/Reuters

A middle-aged mother was described by a judge as the ‘worst passenger ever’ on Monday as she was jailed for a drunken mid-air rampage.

Helen Butcher, 51, who had been drinking wine, vodka and gin, told cabin crew to ‘**** off’ and punched one steward in the genitals saying: ‘It doesn’t matter, you’re gay anyway.’

Butcher, who was travelling to the Greek island of Kos with her daughter, was also aggressively rude to other holidaymakers. She swore so loudly that children on the Thomson aircraft covered their ears while passengers were reduced to tears and begged staff to make her behave.

One crew member handed a warning note from the pilot to Butcher, only for her to grab hold of his face and swear at him. She was arrested by Greek police when the plane landed.

Senior cabin crew member Shay Kelly said: ‘She was angry, loud and abusive. In 20 years on board aircraft, this person was the worst passenger I have ever dealt with.’

Butcher, of Ulverston, Cumbria, was jailed for 21 weeks after she admitted two counts of assault, being intoxicated on an aircraft and using threatening behaviour.

The incidents occurred in June 27 last year after Butcher arrived at Manchester Airport with daughter Victoria. She consumed half a bottle of wine during their car journey, then had two vodkas in the airport lounge and a gin and tonic at the start of the flight.

Prosecutor Amanda Johnson said Butcher and her daughter Victoria were among the last to board. When she struggled to find space in a locker for her bag, she became rude to other passengers. After ordering a gin and tonic she punched crew member Michael Crawford in the genitals because, she claimed, he was obstructing her view of her daughter.

The defendant then said the attack did not matter because he was gay. The crew were told not serve her any more alcohol but she was already slurring her words, Miss Johnson told Manchester Crown Court.

When Mr Kelly handed over the warning note from the pilot Butcher grabbed his face and repeatedly swore. The prosecutor added: ‘Throughout the flight, crew could hear the defendant and her daughter swearing and arguing.’

As Butcher was taken away by police after the flight landed, the crew saw she had a one-litre bottle of spirits in a bag and thought she must have been drinking from it.

Raquel Simpson, defending, said Butcher had alcohol issues but accepted her behaviour was appalling. Judge David Stockdale said: ‘You chose to take a holiday which would involve flying when you knew your weaknesses. Behaviour such as yours threatens safety.’