This man slapped a crying child on a plane. Now he has learnt his fate.

Joe Bickey Hundley found guilty

It was February 8 last year when former aerospace executive, Joe Bickey Hundley was on a flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta in the US.

It was a difficult flight for him, he was on his way to remove his dying son from life support after an insulin overdose.

He is an alcoholic and he was drinking to cope with the trauma.

The flight had been uneventful and the plane was starting its decent when a nearby toddler began to cry.

As difficult as his day was…

As emotionally torn up as he was…

As drunk as he was – nothing excuses what he did next – a life changing action that made headlines internationally for many months afterwards.

We’ve all been irritated by a crying baby on a plane – many of us have been the anxious parent of that crying baby on a plane.

It is tough for both parties.

The incident made international headlines last year

Jessica Bennett was ‘that’ Mum. She was sitting in the aisle seat of the aircraft with her 19-month-old son on her lap. Bennett was in the window seat.

“He reeked of alcohol,” Bennett told KARE 11 back in February “He was belligerent and I was uncomfortable.”

As the plane descended to land in Atlanta, Bennett said her son started crying due to the pressure change.

She tried to stop him and couldn’t as the 19-month old was in pain.

According to court documents, Bennett alleges Hundley leaned over and “told her to shut that (N-word) baby up,” Bennett asked Hundley what he had said, and he leaned in with his face next to hers and said it again.

Hundley then slapped the child’s face, leaving a scratch below his right eye, the FBI agent’s statement says.

Jessica Bennett is white. Her son, Jonah is adopted.

Hundley was charged with simple assault.

Yesterday a federal judge in the US found him guilty, and ordered he serve eight months in federal prison.


Hundley, 61 had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge in October. Prosecutors initially recommended a six-month prison sentence, but the judge opted for a stiffer punishment.

“I’m very sorry,” Hundley said in court. “I made the most terrible day in my life much worse for myself and others.”

He said “shut that (N-word) baby up”

Bennett gave a statement before sentencing, saying her son immediately changed after the assault from a bright and curious child to one who was guarded and scared.

She said it affected her as well – she suffered fear, anxiety and depression as a result of the attack.

“It is my belief that Mr. Hundley is a bully,” Bennett told the judge. “He saw an easy mark in a woman with a young child to unleash his bigotry.

Hundley’s lawyers had tried to explain away his actions being as result of his grief at his son’s suicide and his difficult journey to turn off his life support.

At the sentencing hearing, Bennett said she, too, had experienced the death of a child, explaining that about four years ago she and her husband had to remove their 3-week-old baby from life support. But they did not react violently in their grief, she said.

“He treated me and Jonah like we were less than human and he deserves to be punished,” she said.

Magistrate Judge Alan Baverman told Hundley:

“You cannot assault another individual, regardless of how sad or upset, or even how intoxicated or sick, you are,” Baverman said.

Jessica Bennett says she suffers anxiety as a result of the attack

In addition to the prison sentence, the judge ordered Hundley to serve a year of supervised release, undergo alcohol abuse treatment and anger management counseling, and perform 120 hours of community service, preferably in a homeless shelter.

After the hearing Jessica Bennett said she was satisfied by the sentence but she didn’t believe Hundley’s apology was genuine.