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A DAD-of-three threatened to blow up a plane after a row with cabin crew over an elderly woman who had fallen ill, a court heard.

East Lancashire community volunteer Mohammed Safdar, 42, offered his services when cabin crew made an announcement asking for a medical professional to assist them.

The crew established he had no medical credentials and turned him away, resulting in a confrontation, Chelmsford Crown Court heard.

Safdar, encouraged by Tayyab Subhani, 30, then made threats to kill crew and passengers, resulting in ‘fear and panic’.

 

The alleged threats, made in Urdu, included the words: “No more crew, no more passengers, finish everything.”

Safdar, who lives with his wife and three children and runs a class for young people on religious meditation, is also alleged to have made stabbing hand gestures.

The pilot, who described the incident as the most serious of his career, contacted UK air traffic control and was instructed to begin emergency procedures.

Fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the Boeing 777 heading for Manchester from Lahore on May 24.

The commercial aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing at Stansted Airport in Essex.

 

Once on the ground, the aircraft was surrounded by armed police and a full-scale bomb alert was called. The men were arrested and hundreds of passengers were forced to remain on board until investigators established there was no danger.

The men deny endangering the safety of an aircraft.

As their trial began at Chelmsford Crown Court jurors heard neither was a ‘terrorist nor a political or religious extremist’.

Prosecutor Brian O’Neill QC said that although neither man was capable of carrying out the threats, the claim had been made deliberately and the pilot had no option but to take it seriously.

He added: “That day Pakistan airlines flights PK709 took off from Lahore heading for Manchester. It never arrived at its intended destination “As a result of the behaviour of these two defendants, especially Mr Safdar, the flight had to be diverted to Stansted and was escorted by two RAF Typhoon fighter jets.

“This behaviour involved threats to kill members of the cabin crew, threats to kill passengers and threats to blow up the plane whilst it was in flight.

“Such utterances, if made at ground level, may sometimes be capable of being ignored or not being taken seriously but when those threats are made in flight at 30,000 feet on a commercial jet, that’s not an option.”

Some passengers had reported seeing the men, who were returning from Safdar’s mother’s funeral with his daughter and niece, behaving in a ‘rude and aggressive’ manner before the flight took off, he added. He claimed this continued once they were in the air.

“Had it not escalated, this may have simply remained the kind of unpleasant behaviour many of us have experienced during flights and would not wish to experience again,” Mr O’Neill said.

Safdar, of Hallam Crescent, and Subhani, of Townley Street, who works at Morrisons and a taxi firm in Burnley, appeared in court dressed in suits and wearing Remembrance Day poppies.

The men told police that the allegations were lies and members of the cabin crew had encouraged passengers to corroborate the story.

The trial is expected to last five weeks.

See on www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk

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