Ex-para accused of Stansted Airport ‘bomb hoax’ found not guilty
PUBLISHED: 17:27 20 December 2016 | UPDATED: 17:45 20 December 2016
A drunken ex-paratrooper accused of a bomb hoax on a flight from Stansted Airport to Glasgow has been cleared today.
A jury at Chelmsford Crown Court found Calum Lochhead, from Kilmarnock, not guilty of communicating false information that a bomb was onboard easyJet flight 217 on March 22 this year.
The incident took place on the same day as the Brussels Airport bombings, which left 32 people dead and hundreds injured.
His alleged words caused the plane to be disembarked, with passengers forced to wait next to the plane while the aircraft was searched, resulting in a hour delay to the flight.
Mr Lochhead, 26, had been allegedly overheard by a passenger saying, “I’ve got a bomb” and a stewardess also claimed she had heard him shout the word “bomb” just prior to take-off.
Mr Lochhead denied saying it and insisted he had said the word “airborne” – a term used to distinguish the Parachute Regiment from troops who did not fly during his time in the military.
In a police interview the morning after the incident, Mr Lochhead did admit to officers that he was “blotto” and “steaming drunk” and could not remember getting on the plane.
Mr Lochhead, who now works as a steel erector, had boarded the flight with friend Alistair Mach after the pair had missed their connection at Stansted.
The two men had flown from Edinburgh on the morning of March 22, with the intention of catching an onward flight to Prague to watch a friendly international football match between Scotland and the Czech Republic two days later.
Giving evidence, Mr Mach said that both men had consumed a bottle of wine on the way to Edinburgh Airport, as well as having “a few pints” in the terminal.
After they missed their flight, the pair decided to cut their losses and head back to Glasgow but had “three or four double vodkas” at Stansted as they waited to board.
Mr Mach said: “As the pilot came over the tannoy, Calum said something about being airborne, which is from his paratrooper days.
“I have heard him say it before when we’ve been together on holidays together, usually at take-off.”
Mr Mach added that he was “110% sure” that his friend had said “airborne”.
After the two-day trial, the jury of six men and six women deliberated for just over an hour before reaching their verdict.