updated 3/6/2011 2:38:30 PM ET 2011-03-06T19:38:30

A Virgin Blue flight attendant was fired after an angry mother claimed he locked her toddler son in an overhead bin, the Sunday Herald Sun reports.

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Natalie Williamson told the newspaper that she, her 17-month-old son, Riley, and her now estranged husband were traveling on a Virgin flight from Fiji to Sydney, Australia, when the flight attendant picked up Riley, placed him in the overhead bin and shut the door.

Virgin confirmed that the incident did occur but said Williamson's husband was playing a peek-a-boo game with Riley when the flight attendant joined in.

"We conducted a thorough investigation of the incident and the staff member involved was subsequently terminated," a Virgin spokeswoman told the Herald Sun.

Williamson said that Virgin Blue offered her free flights, but she said she is too shaken by the incident to redeem them.

"My husband, Shayne, was standing one meter behind my son, Riley, when the air steward picked him up and placed him in the overhead compartment," she told the Herald Sun. 

"I stood up and there were people laughing and then I said 'Get my son out of there now'," she said.

"I was devastated. I was absolutely devastated."

Williamson said Riley was locked in the compartment for about 10 seconds in complete darkness.

Riley, now 20 months, has seen various specialists since the incident, said Williamson, and is suffering from anxiety and withdrawal.

"He won't leave my sight now. He sleeps with me. If I'm not in the same room as him, he will scream and yell 'Mum, mum, mum,' " she said.

The Virgin spokeswoman said that "the safety of our guests is our top priority."

"We have expressed our sincere apologies to the guest and have provided them with a credit for the full amount of the two return flights."

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