Man Who Claimed To Have Bomb On Melbourne Flight Jailed

Incident in May 2017

Man Who Claimed To Have Bomb On Melbourne Flight Jailed

A Sri Lankan man who threatened to set off a bomb on an international flight from Melbourne will serve at least nine years in jail.

Manodh Marks, 26, forced Malaysia Airlines flight MH128 bound for Kuala Lumpur to turn back soon after take-off when he screamed that he had a bomb in May 2017.

The visibly agitated, ice-fuelled Marks ran down the aisle of the Airbus A330 holding two electronic devices with flashing blue lights, saying he was going to blow up the plane.

Marks, who was actually holding a speaker device and a power bank that night, was jailed for 12 years on Thursday with a minimum term of nine years.

"You ran to the galley outside the pilot's door and you announced there that you had a bomb and you wanted to destroy the plane," County Court Judge Michael McInerney said, in sentencing.

"The passengers and crew were not only concerned but convinced that you were indeed in possession of a bomb.

"One can imagine the fear and distress of everyone on board."

Judge McInerney said the bomb threat occurred during the take-off period, a crucial time of the flight, distracting the captain and putting passengers at increased risk.

"I believe the passengers were placed in danger," he said.

The captain had to make a mayday call to air traffic control and turn the plane around after a crew member gave the hijacking code of "romeo romeo".

One passenger said in a victim impact statement that he still suffered flashbacks.

"Yes, there was a moment where I feared for my life," the passenger said in his statement to the court.

Marks was eventually overpowered by passengers and restrained with cable ties until the flight landed back at Melbourne Airport.

But police made more than 200 passengers stay on the plane for almost 90 minutes before storming the aircraft and arresting Marks.

Officers copped criticism for taking so long to remove Marks and free the passengers.

Marks pleaded guilty to the federal charge of attempting to take control of an aircraft, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years' jail.

The Sri Lankan had been living in Dandenong and studying hospitality after his "prosperous" family sent him to Australia for education.

But he had fallen into regular ice use, and on the night of the flight was suffering a drug-induced psychosis with delusions.