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‘I felt faint.’ Aussie plumber tells court of hijack alert

October 31, 2014 Aviation, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59A court trial in Brisbane resulting from an in-flight incident that sparked a hijack alert centres on whether a man was deliberately trying to enter the cockpit.

The accused, a plumber from New South Wales, says he was disoriented and feeling sick when he mistakenly knocked on the cockpit door of the Virgin Australia flight to Bali in April. He believed the door led to the toilet when he pounded on it.

The Virgin Australia pilot says he heard banging and rattling on the cockpit door during the flight from Brisbane, prompting him to alert authorities on the ground, ABC News reported.

Matt Christopher Lockley has pleaded not guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court to interfering with a crew member during the 25 April 2014  flight to Denpasar.

The prosecution alleged that during the flight, Lockley tried to enter the cockpit before being restrained by passengers.

Pilot Neil Cooper told the trial cabin crew had already been dealing with a medical emergency aboard (a heart attack) when banging and rattling started on the door. “It wasn’t a friendly knock,” the pilot said.

The pilot increased speed to reach Denpasar, having notified authorities there. Indonesian security officers escorted a man off the plane.

A flight attendant said Lockley appeared nervous beforehand and asked if there were any police aboard because he thought someone had tampered with his bag, ABC News reported.

Lockley was moved to another seat but about 15 minutes later the attendant saw him pounding on the cockpit door and trying to turn the handle.

Passengers guarded Lockley before he was escorted off the plane on landing, the court heard.

Lockley said he suffered a panic attack and needed to go to the toilet. He told the court he was disoriented. “I felt like I was going to faint, felt like I was going to throw up,” the Guardian reported.

Lockley denied he was drunk or under the influence of drugs. He says he was sober and simply mistook the cockpit door for the toilet and pounded on it.

Whether Lockley’s problem arose from a misunderstanding or from something more sinister is for the court to decide.

The Tokyo Convention, negotiated in 1963, gives jurisdiction over offences committed aboard aircraft to the state of registration of the aircraft.

The magistrate is likely to deliver a judgement in the case on 12 December 2014.

 

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. stingforever says:

    …ok, who moved the male toilet sign onto the cockpit’s door…

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