A librarian who made a hoax bomb threat to delay a Gatwick flight he was running late for has been jailed.
Gatwick passenger running late for LA flight made hoax bomb threat to delay plane
Jacob Meir Abdellak called police reporting a bomb on board the Norwegian flight from London Gatwick to Los Angeles just eight minutes before it was due to depart.
A full re-screening by security staff at the airport meant the flight was delayed by 90 minutes on May 11.
Investigations by Gatwick Airport staff revealed that Abdellak, 47, was significantly late for his flight and he was denied boarding before becoming abusive to airline staff.
He was told to return on another date to rearrange his flight.
Police soon discovered the phone call used to make the hoax threat was the same number linked to Abdellak's flight booking.
He was charged with communicating false information regarding a noxious substance likely to create serious risk to human health, however he denied the offence throughout.
Abdellak, a French national, admitted the telephone number was his, but claimed he had lost the SIM card a few days earlier and therefore the call could not have been made by him.
But at Lewes Crown Court yesterday, when the trial was due to begin, the librarian changed his mind and pleaded guilty.
He was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment and required to pay a £140 victim surcharge.
Gatwick Police Chief Inspector Marc Clothier said: “This was a quite ridiculous decision made by Abdellak, who fabricated an extremely serious allegation purely for his own benefit.
"He was running late for his flight and thought it would be a good idea to call in a hoax bomb, however this turned out to be the worst decision he could have made.
“His actions caused the flight to be delayed, and also caused a level of fear and distress among a number of staff and passengers on board that flight.
“The consequences of making allegations about bombs, guns or similar at densely populated locations such as airports are well documented, and Abdellak’s sentence serves as a warning to others that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated and offenders will be dealt with robustly.”
A Norwegian spokesperson said: “We treat all security threats very seriously and we work with the police and authorities to ensure the safety and security of our customers, crew and aircraft at all times.”