Bomb-scare air passenger is jailed

A car worker whose "idiotic" behaviour triggered a bomb scare on an airliner heading to Britain from the Middle East was given a three-year jail term today.





James Glen, 38, who was born in Ayr, Ayrshire, was told by a judge at Chelmsford Crown Court in Essex that he had caused a "serious threat" and subjected passengers to "gross" inconvenience.



Glen admitted "communicating information about a bomb hoax" on a flight with Etihad Airways - the national airline of the United Arab Emirates - heading from Abu Dhabi to Heathrow carrying 163 passengers and 15 crew on January 24.



Prosecutors said the alarm was raised and two military jets scrambled after Glen, who had been drinking whisky and beer, told a flight attendant that another passenger had a gun and had threatened to blow himself up.



RAF Typhoons were called in to accompany the plane, which was re-directed to Stansted, near Chelmsford.



The plane was flying on the day that 35 people - including British businessman Gordon Cousland - died in a suicide bomb attack at Moscow's busiest airport.



Glen had been living in Australia for 18 years and was returning to the UK to start a job as a panel-beater and car-sprayer in Chard, Somerset.



Duncan Penny, in mitigation, said Glen, who began his journey in Melbourne, had "consumed alcohol" and taken an anti-histamine drug.



Mr Penny said Glen was on his first flight for 20 years, had expressed a fear of flying and was tired.



Judge Charles Gratwicke said any air traveller guilty of such behaviour could expect a jail sentence.











Mark Lakin, prosecuting, said flight attendants noticed that Glen, who had been living in Melbourne, had drunk a "couple" of whiskies and beer and were "concerned" about him.



He said attendants "deliberately delayed" Glen's requests for more alcohol.



Mr Makin said Glen began having "strange" conversations with a nearby passenger, Ghazanfar Ali.



Glen demanded money - £200, then £10,000 then £20,000 - from Mr Ali.



He then become "agitated", asked to speak to the captain, and told a stewardess that Mr Ali had a gun, was demanding money, had a bomb and was threatening to blow up himself and the aircraft.



Mr Makin said Mr Ali was detained for "some time" by police and the plane was held at Stansted for four hours.



He said the flight attendant initially dealing with Glen - Ouafa Khennouf - was inexperienced and on her second flight as a stewardess.



Mr Makin said flight attendants were "sanguine" in their dealings with Glen, which was a testament to their training.



When interviewed by police, Glen initially said he had been "threatened" before changing his mind and admitting that his allegations about the gun and bomb were false.



Mr Makin said the airline estimated that the incident cost more than £17,000 in excess fuel, passenger handling charges and passenger compensation.



Mr Penny said Glen was of good character, had been returning to start a new life in the UK, and his "idiotic" behaviour was "entirely out of character".



"It is plainly a very strange incident," said Mr Penny. "He simply cannot remember what took place. Clearly, something was said."



Mr Penny added: "Frankly, he is appalled at himself and cannot understand how it came to pass."



Judge Gratwicke said passengers did not hear what Glen said but authorities had treated the incident seriously.



"Travellers are entitled to expect their fellow passengers to behave properly," said the judge. "Any threat on an aircraft in flight is serious."



He added: "The other passengers, in particular the unfortunate Mr Ali, were grossly inconvenienced."



The judge warned that travellers guilty of such offences could expect "substantial" punishments.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future