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Laser pen attack at planes landing at Gatwick threaten passengers safety

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Pilots of several aircraft making their final approaches to Gatwick Airport on Monday night (18 December) reported a green laser light being shone at them as they flew over the Ashdown Forest before landing.

They included inbound flights from Barcelona and Turin.

In total, five incidents were reported, mostly occurring between 7pm and 8pm, although there was also one around midnight.

Sergeant Darren Taylor said:

“We believe the person or persons responsible were located in the Hartfield area and we are keen to hear from anyone who can help us narrow down the location or who may have information. No one was injured and all the aircraft affected landed safely, but it is a potentially dangerous thing to do.” 

Anyone able to help is asked to contact police online at https://sussex.police.uk/appealresponse or to phone 101, quoting serial 1225 of 18/12.

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Crime

Man jailed for making hoax bomb call in order to catch his flight at Gatwick

A man who made a hoax bomb call in an attempt to catch his flight to the USA has been jailed.

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Jacob Meir Abdellak was running late for the Norwegian flight from Gatwick to Los Angeles, so he decided to contact the police to report the threat.

The anonymous call was received at 5.47am on Friday 11 May – just eight minutes before the flight was due to depart – and a full re-screening meant take-off was delayed by 90 minutes.

Further enquiries made by Gatwick Airport Ltd revealed Abdellak was significantly late for the flight and he was denied boarding by airline staff, whom he became abusive towards. He was told to return on another date to rearrange his flight.

It was later confirmed the telephone number used to make the call was the same number linked to his booking.

The 47-year-old librarian, of Amhurst Park, Hackney, London, was arrested at Gatwick Airport on Tuesday 22 May as he attempted to board another flight to the USA.

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 on Tuesday (14 August), when the trial was due to begin, the defendant 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.”

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