Jail for man who left bag in airport
By Philip Johnston, Home Affairs Editor
A plumber who left an unattended bag containing a teddy bear, some fruit and clothes in an airport lounge was jailed yesterday for causing a full-scale security alert.
Magistrates sentenced Jose da Silva, 25, to 10 days under public nuisance laws.
Da Silva was waiting for a flight home to Portugal last Sunday when he left the hold-all in a departure lounge while he went for a cigarette at Birmingham nternational airport.
The airport was closed for three hours and 1,000 passengers and staff had to leave as an Army bomb disposal team investigated. Three incoming flights were diverted and 15 planes grounded.
Speaking through an interpreter and in tears, da Silva, who pleaded not guilty to creating a public nuisance, told the court in Solihull that he had no intention of causing such a huge security operation.
But Howard Turner, the chairman of the bench, said while da Silva had not intended to cause the alert the offence was serious enough to warrant a prison sentence.
It is thought to be the first time a jail term has been passed for what was an unwitting, albeit costly, act.
A Birmingham airport spokesman said: "This was an example of the sort of thing that can happen and how it escalates very quickly.
"We take these things very seriously and this was a serious security issue. The sentence reflects that and we would reiterate the dangers of leaving luggage unattended."