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Man remanded over plane bomb threat

A man pleaded guilty today to making a bomb hoax threat on a passenger airliner which was diverted under a fighter jet escort.

James Glen, 37, was remanded in custody when he appeared before magistrates in Chelmsford, Essex, following the incident on board an Etihad Airways flight bound for Heathrow Airport.

The hoax was made on the same day as 35 people - including British businessman Gordon Cousland - died in a suicide bomb attack at Moscow's busiest airport.

The flight, from Abu Dhabi, was redirected yesterday after the pilot reported a disruptive passenger.

Glen, who was "intoxicated", told a flight attendant that a fellow passenger had a gun and had "threatened to blow himself up", prosecutor Vivienne Perry said.

Two RAF Typhoon jets were scrambled to accompany the aircraft before it landed at Stansted Airport in Essex shortly before midday.

The flight, which had 163 passengers and 15 crew members on board, was delayed for four hours.

Ms Perry said the diversion had a "considerable financial cost", including charges incurred from the RAF escort, additional fuel and the cost to other passengers who missed connecting flights from Heathrow.

"The whole incident caused considerable problems for passengers and members of the air crew," said Ms Perry.

"When he was interviewed, he admitted he made up the whole story and said he does not know why he did."

Glen, who was born in Ayr, Scotland, had been living in Australia for 18 years.

He was returning to the UK to take up a job as a panel beater and car sprayer working on rally cars in Chard, Somerset, the court heard.

Paul Cammiss, mitigating, said Glen was anxious about flying as he had not been in a plane since he moved to Australia at the age of 19.

Mr Cammiss said Glen acted in a manner "alien to him" due to the small amount of alcohol he had consumed which affected him more than usual due to the pressurised air in the cabin.

He said no other passenger knew of Glen's allegations apart from the one he had accused of carrying explosive material.

Glen, who was wearing a striped blue, maroon and grey jumper, will appear before Chelmsford Crown Court on March 10 when he is expected to be sentenced.