Australian jailed for bomb hoax

AN Australian resident has been jailed for three years by a London court for his costly bomb hoax on an international flight that resulted in an innocent man being interrogated by police.

Military fighter jets were called to escort the Etihad Airways flight on January 24 after James Glen, 38, told air crew that fellow passenger Ghazanfar Ali was armed with a bomb, carrying a gun and had demanded cash. The aircraft was diverted from its planned destination of Heathrow and landed at the regional airport of Stansted.

“Your lies triggered a series of events culminating in the scrambling or diversion of two RAF fighter planes who escorted the plane to its unscheduled destination of Stansted where passengers and Mr Ali were grossly inconvenienced,” judge Charles Gratwicke said yesterday during the sentencing at Chelmsford Crown Court on the outskirts of London.

Glen pleaded guilty to communicating information about a bomb hoax, an offence that carries a maximum of seven years’ jail.  The Scottish-born Glen, who had lived in Australia for 20 years, was returning to Britain to start a “new life”, the court was told by defence counsel Duncan Penny.

“Frankly, he is appalled with himself and can’t understand how it came to pass,” Mr Penny said of the hoax on his client’s behalf.  Glen had previously told the court he suffered from a fear of flying and had taken medication before boarding the flight and drank whisky and beer after take-off.  He remained emotionless throughout the sentencing and walked quickly from the dock once he had been jailed.

Prosecutor Mark Lakin said Mr Ali was detained by police for “some time” after the aircraft landed at Stansted, and the diversion cost Etihad pound stg. 17,000 ($26,400), which Glen was not in a position to repay.

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