By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
For decades now, the aviation industry has been wrestling with rising numbers of hoax bomb threats communicated in wide-ranging ways.
Not only are such hoaxes on the increase, they also seem to be taking place with a vast array of motives behind them and even though a threat is rarely connected with the presence of an actual explosive device.
According to research from The Global and Journal of Airport and Airline Security, in many cases, the people behind hoax bomb threats are those who want to settle scores with another person, passengers who have been mistreated by airlines, sometimes even people who strangely enjoy the thrill of a largescale prank.
But then there are just the downright stupid – the people too desperate to get what they want and too selfish to think about anyone else.
Take for example a London man who thought it would be up to standard to report a fake bomb threat in an attempt to delay the flight to see his girlfriend in Marrakech that he was running late for.
Unfortunately for the man, the fake flight fib cost him a whopping 16 months in jail.
London Man’s Desperate Measure to Avoid Missing Flight to See Girlfriend After Issues with Public Transport on Way to Airport
It is reported that incident at hand took place on 4 May 2019, while the suspect was identified as Rashidul Islam from London.
Mr Islam, 32, was on his way to meet his fiancée in Marrakech, but on the way to Gatwick airport where his flight was departing from, he had issues with public transport.
In a ploy to avoid missing his flight, the man then decided it would be a good idea to anonymously call the police and report a hoax bomb threat on the plane he was supposed to catch.
Mr Islam then allegedly called authorities, telling them, “EasyJet flight 8897 leaves in 40 minutes … There may be a bomb on the plane, you need to delay it, you need to stop it now”.
The hoax bomb threat then led to mayhem, with all passengers on board the flight from London to Marrakech removed and held in the gate room, while the crew was forced to evacuate.
Mr Islam Turns Up Late for Check-In; Unaware His Mobile Number Recorded by Police
During the scenes of chaos with an alleged explosion now imminent, Mr Islam managed to arrive at the airport, albeit late for his check-in.
Nevertheless, he checked in, during which enquiries revealed his mobile number matched the number used to make the hoax bomb call, leaving police realising their suspect.
Mr Islam was arrested at Gatwick Airport on suspicion of making a bomb hoax and taken into custody.
He later admitted to making the fake threat.
Meanwhile, the flight to Marrakech eventually took off some three hours after its initial departure time.
Mr Islam Sentenced to 16 Months in Jail for Hoax Bomb Threat and Banned from Gatwick Airport
On 17 January 2020, Mr Islam faced Lewes Crown Court where he pleaded guilty to the false bomb threat offence.
He was sentenced to 16 months in jail and was also banned from London’s Gatwick Airport.
In a statement released by Sussex Police, Detective Constable Stephen Trott said, “While the defendant expressed remorse, there is no excuse for his actions that day and he has been sentenced accordingly”.
Constable Trott made clear that reporting a false bomb threat goes beyond merely the significant costs and delays to passengers and the airport at large.
He emphasised that such an incident also “strikes fear into the community”.
“We treat all reports of this nature extremely seriously, and anyone caught committing such an offence will be dealt with robustly,” Constable Trott said.
Questions? Call our criminal lawyers based in Sydney for a free consult.
In Australia, it is against the law to make a hoax bomb threat using a carriage service.
The offence is taken very seriously and thus carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in jail.
The law on using a carriage service for a hoax threat is contained in section 474.16 Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
Section 474.16 outlines that a person commits an offence if the person uses a carriage service to send a communication; and the person does so with the intention of inducing a false belief that an explosive, or a dangerous or harmful substance or thing, has been or will be left in any place.
A “carriage service” is understood as a service for carrying communication by means of guided and/or unguided electromagnetic energy. Examples include phone calls, text messages and internet transmissions such as emails and social media sites.