Oddly Enough

Flight attendant jailed for bomb hoax

LONDON (Reuters) - A flight attendant was jailed for 18 months on Thursday for leaving a bomb hoax note on board an Emirates aircraft he was working on and sparking a scare that led to London’s Gatwick Airport briefly closing.

A plane makes its final approach at London's Gatwick airport December 7, 2008. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Australian national Matthew Carney, 24, left a message in the toilet of a flight from Dubai to London in March which read: “Explosive material can be found in the FWD (forward cargo department). We have the Taliban to thank for this.”

A passenger on board the Boeing 777 found the note 10 minutes before the plane was due to land and raised the alarm. When the flight arrived at Gatwick it was taken to a secure holding area and surrounded by armed police.

The 164 passengers and 16 crew were taken off the plane and interviewed and Carney was arrested shortly afterwards.

He pleaded guilty to communicating false information, namely a bomb hoax, at Lewes Crown Court, police said.

The court was told that earlier in the flight Carney told his co-workers he had “found” wires hanging down from behind a mirror in a toilet in the economy section, the Press Association reported.

But senior cabin crew members who inspected the area found the wires were not attached to anything and the plane carried on to Britain.

Prosecutor Dale Sullivan said that because of the earlier incident, Carney was arrested and his luggage searched.

Inside a pair of his shorts was found a piece of paper with the words “Cargo contains explosives,” which handwriting experts linked to the note left in the toilet.

His lawyer Andel Singh said Carney had been under a great deal of stress and was “extremely tired” at the time having worked on flights on different time schedules throughout the world.

“He apologizes wholeheartedly and sincerely to all those individuals who were even the slightest bit inconvenienced,” Singh said.

Sullivan said the hoax had left Emirates with a bill for 42,000 pounds ($66,340) for arranging ongoing flights and other measures, while some passengers were left with a fear of flying and said they would never set foot on an aircraft again.

Reporting by Michael Holden