A man was dragged off a flight after he spat on his girlfriend in a drunken fight just minutes before the plane took off.

Robert Owen Jackson, 26, and his 21-year-old girlfriend Tian Elizabeth Downie had boarded their Thomas Cook flight to Anatalya, Turkey when the drunken argument occurred.

According to The Mirror, the couple were detained at Glasgow Airport, forcing them to miss out on their holiday abroad. The flight was delayed by nine minutes.

Jackson celebrated his 26th birthday in a police cell and spent the majority of the day behind bars. The Mirror reported that he was transferred to a custody van and then to a cell at Paisley Sheriff Court before appearing in the dock.

The court heard from procurator fiscal depute Frank Clarke that the argument erupted between the couple and that Jackson assaulted Downie by spitting on her. The couple were sitting in their seats, Clarke said.

The prosecutor said: "Staff on the aircraft reported this to the police.

"Both were spoken to and detained. Both of them had boarded the plane intoxicated. Police certainly describe him as being under the influence of alcohol and, because of that, he was not cautioned and charged."

Defence solicitor Robert Kerr claimed Downie was partly responsible for what had transpired. "It's fair to say they were both as bad as each other," Kerr said. "She would appear to have been aggressive, she spat at him and he spat back at her.

"She was also arrested and charged."

The lawyer said Downie had punched Jackson and grabbed at his face during the flight. Downie was not scared of him, Kerr said.

The Mirror reported that Sheriff Seith Ireland decided to defer sentence on Jackson for background reports to be prepared, adding: "I don't make light of this.

"This is serious and one outcome can be imprisonment. You have a history of doing something similar to more than one lady. This might be a worrying indication about your attitudes."

Neither Jackson nor Downie were jailed. Jackson, of Porterfield Road, Renfrew, faced up to 12 months for the offences. However, after learning that Jackson worked, had been spat on first by Downie and had spent his birthday behind bars, the sheriff spared him prison time.

Sheriff Ireland placed Jackson on a Community Payback Order (CPO), which means he will be supervised by social workers for 12 months. Downie was held in police custody overnight and freed without appearing in the dock, Crown Office prosecutors confirmed.

Following their arrests, a spokeswoman for Thomas Cook Airlines said: "The safety of our customers and crew is always our first priority. Our flight from Glasgow to Anatalya on Wednesday was delayed due to two disruptive passengers who were removed from the aircraft by the police.

"We are sorry for the inconvenience caused."