Australia

Virgin plane hijack scare: Australian found not guilty

Indonesian soldiers secure the Virgin Australia plane at Denpasar airport - 25 April 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Flight crew said that Mr Lockley had banged on the cockpit door and behaved aggressively

A man who sparked a hijack alert on a Virgin Australia flight to Indonesia has been cleared of charges by a Brisbane court.

Matt Lockley, 28, was found not guilty of interfering with a crew member during his flight from Brisbane to Bali in April.

He had reportedly banged on the pilot's cockpit door, demanding entry. He was handcuffed and arrested on landing.

The judge found that he was suffering from a medical condition at the time.

The incident, on 25 April, caused a hijack scare after the pilot sent a distress signal to Indonesia's airport authorities.

Indonesian troops boarded the flight after it landed at Bali airport and arrested Mr Lockley.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Lockley was arrested by Indonesian troops after the plane landed in Bali

Virgin later said the incident was "no hijacking", but a "miscommunication", and that Mr Lockley was drunk and acting aggressively.

Mr Lockley later said he had experienced a panic attack and mistook the cockpit door for a toilet.

His lawyer said he had also been anxious because he thought someone had tampered with his luggage.

Brisbane magistrate Judith Daley ruled that Mr Lockley was suffering from a medical issue, and that there was not sufficient evidence to suggest he intentionally knocked on the cockpit door.

Speaking after the verdict, Mr Lockley told reporters he was "very relieved".

"It was a big misunderstanding, I never tried to get in anywhere," he said.

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