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Man jailed after making bomb hoax to avoid missing Gatwick flight

A man who reported a bomb hoax in an attempt to delay the flight he was running late for has been jailed.

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Police received an anonymous call on 4 May from a man who told the call handler: “easyJet flight 8897 leaves in 40 minutes… There may be a bomb on the plane, you need to delay it, you need to stop it now.”

As a result of the call, all passengers for the 5.40pm Gatwick to Marrakech flight were held in the gate room and the crew were evacuated from the aircraft.

During this time, a man turned up late for check-in, and enquiries revealed the mobile number used to make the hoax call was the same number owned by this man.

Officers attended and the suspect was identified as Rashidul Islam, 32, a designer, of Ivy Road, London. He was arrested in the North Terminal on suspicion of making a bomb hoax and taken into custody.

In police interview, Islam fully admitted the offence. He claimed he intended to travel to Marrakech to meet with his fiancée, however he had problems on public transport which caused him to be late for his flight.

In a desperate attempt to delay it, he called 999 to say he had information there was a bomb on the plane.

Islam pleaded guilty to the offence and at Lewes Crown Court on 17 January he was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment. He has also been banned from Gatwick Airport. 

Investigating officer, Detective Constable Stephen Trott, said:

“While the defendant expressed remorse, there is no excuse for his actions that day and he has been sentenced accordingly.

“Making a false report of a bomb on a plane not only causes significant costs and delays to the airport and its passengers; it also strikes fear into the community.

“We treat all reports of this nature extremely seriously, and anyone caught committing such an offence will be dealt with robustly.

“We work closely with Gatwick Airport and its airlines to ensure people are kept as safe as possible, and we will not tolerate anyone who compromises this.”

Following Islam’s arrest, all luggage was re-screened and the passengers were re-checked through security, and the flight eventually departed at 8.54pm – more than three hours later than scheduled.

Gatwick

New two year train timetable for Gatwick is released as work on new station prepares to begin

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The £150m essential upgrade of Gatwick Airport station by Network Rail to relieve crowding, improve accessibility and reduce delays for commuters and leisure travellers across the South East will see Southern trains doubled in length along coastal routes to Eastbourne, Hastings, Worthing and Littlehampton.

A two-year temporary timetable to make space for the building work, due to start on 17 May and now available online to see, will provide much-needed relief for passengers on the congested coastal routes.

Additionally, Cooksbridge will have its first-ever all-week service as trains begin calling at the station on Sundays. This is a permanent change.

Also, on Saturdays, there will be an extra Thameslink service every hour between Brighton and Cambridge and the extension of an existing Sunday Cambridge to Gatwick Airport service through to Brighton. This will mean additional services at Brighton, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Balcombe, Three Bridges, Gatwick Airport, East Croydon, London Bridge and through to Cambridge.

Further changes to Southern and Gatwick Express services are also required. There will be no off-peak Southern services between Brighton and London Victoria, but passengers will be able to travel with Gatwick Express, using Southern’s Super Off-Peak and Kids for £2 fares, which will be eligible on these services.

In the busiest commuter hour in each of the morning and evening peaks, Gatwick Express services will stay the same. Outside this time there will be two fewer Gatwick Express trains each hour, but the remaining trains will be lengthened to compensate and, from the airport, there will still be six Southern trains every hour to Victoria and eight more Thameslink trains to London Bridge providing sufficient space.

Southern, Gatwick Express and Thameslink is committed to helping passengers with information around the changes and will be running a comprehensive awareness campaign in the coming months.

Passengers can meanwhile check details online at Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express websites. Trains are also be available to view in online journey planners at nationalrail.co.uk.

Angie Doll, Managing Director of Southern and Gatwick Express, said:

“With over 20m passengers now using Gatwick station every year, this upgrade is essential to address overcrowding, improve accessibility and maintain a sustainable, reliable and punctual rail service for visitors and commuters along the route.

“This revised temporary timetable will create room for the work at the station while doubling the length of trains along the coast and retaining as many services as possible, supplemented by additional longer trains, ensuring we still have the services and capacity for our passengers.

“Gatwick supports the economy of the entire South East, bringing international travellers and trade to the region worth £2.7bn, supporting 70,000 jobs.”

Emma Rees, Head of Surface Transport, Gatwick Airport, said:

“A £150m upgrade to Gatwick Airport station is essential to meet growing demand and to reduce delays on the Brighton Mainline and wider region by tackling overcrowding at the station. The size of the station concourse will double, and it will become much easier for passengers to access the railway and airport through wider platforms, five new lifts, eight new escalators, new staircases and a new station entrance.”

Paul Harwood, regional investment director for Network Rail, said:

“The continued popularity and convenience of travelling by rail to Gatwick Airport means the station is now seeing more passengers than it was ever designed to handle. With further growth forecast, the station is in urgent need of improvement so that rail travel to and from the airport can continue to grow and help Gatwick support the local economy even more.

“The timetable changes will enable this vital construction work, allowing us to make the station safer, more accessible and capable of supporting smoother journeys for more trains and passengers long into the future.”

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said:

“Gatwick Airport is the first stop for millions of people visiting the UK, and these upgrades will relieve overcrowding, improve accessibility and reduce delays for holidaymakers and commuters.

“We will closely monitor these works to ensure improvements are completed on time and passenger disruption is kept to a minimum.

“Once complete, the expanded, modern station will be an impressive gateway to Global Britain.”

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