Virgin Australia hijack scare: Passenger Matt Lockley calls incident 'huge misunderstanding'

Mr Lockley says he mistook the Boeing 737-800's cockpit for the bathroom

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The Independent Online

An Australian aeroplane passenger who triggered a hijack scare on Friday has called the incident a “huge misunderstanding,” claiming that he mistook the cockpit door for the aircraft’s toilet.

Matt Lockley was flying from Brisbane to the Indonesian island of Bali, when he began banging on what he thought was the toilet door of the Boeing 737-800 aircraft shortly before it landed.

Following a blood test, police said Mr Lockley had taken several painkillers, which caused police to believe he was drunk at the time of the incident.

Pilot Neil Thomas Cooper then alerted Indonesian traffic controllers to what he thought was a possible hijacking. Crew members then seized and handcuffed Mr Lockley.

On Monday, Rudi Ricardo, the head of Bali’s aviation security division, confirmed that Mr Lockely is allowed to return to Australia. Officials say he is unlikely to face charges in Indonesia, and it is now up to Australian authorities to decide whether to pursue a case, according to ABC Australia.

The 28-year-old plumber from Queensland was questioned on Sunday by Bali transport authorities, before being released from hospital. 

He told officers that he was experiencing hallucinations during the incident, which also made him believe he had been followed onto the flight and that someone was trying to steal his bag.

Australian Matt Christopher being escorted away by Indonesian military officers Bali on Friday

“This has been a huge misunderstanding. I had a panic attack and I just wanted to use the toilet and I made an accident by knocking on the cockpit door,” Mr Lockley told the TV network.

“Thank you to the Indonesian police and authorities. They have only followed procedure and they have provided me with a lot of care and support and I'm very grateful for everything they've done.”
A spokeswoman for Virgin Australia said Lockley was not handcuffed on board, but was directed by the crew back to a seat in the rear of the plane.

“The flight was about to land and (Lockley) was sleeping. The flight attendant woke him up and he went to the toilet. At the time, he thought the cockpit door was the toilet door,” Heri Wiyanto, Bali police spokesman, told reporters on Saturday.

“We can confirm there was a disruptive passenger on board and the pilot notified authorities in advance of landing, as per standard operating procedures,” said Virgin spokeswoman Jacqui Abbott.

Virgin Australia said the 137 passengers and seven crew on board were never in any danger during the flight.

Additional reporting by Reuters.