Newstalk
Newstalk

18.43 23 Aug 2017


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A man has been jailed for 18 years after a pipe bomb was found in his hand luggage at Manchester Airport in Britain.

Nadeem Muhammad (43) was convicted of possessing an explosive with intent to endanger life.

Muhammad hid the device in the zip lining of his small green suitcase and tried to take it onto a Ryanair flight to Italy on January 30th.

Manchester Crown Court heard officials initially believed the bomb was not viable as it had no trace of explosives and security manager, Deborah Jeffrey, even put the device into her pocket before passing it to police.

Judge Patrick Field said: "It occurred to me and I'm sure to others listening to the evidence that by acting that way she put herself, her fellow employees and members of the public at risk."

The bomb was made of masking tape, batteries, the tube of a marker pen, pins and wires.

It also contained nitrocellulose - the main ingredient of gunpowder.

Believing it was not dangerous, Muhammad was released and flew to Italy five days later.

However, tests revealed the bomb could have been viable and would have had the potential to cause injuries and damage if detonated, according to an explosives expert.

The judge said an "early opportunity" to arrest Muhammad was missed, allowing him to board a flight to Italy and another back to the UK before he was arrested on February 12th.

'Potentially dangerous'

Judge Field criticised airport security for making a "wholly erroneous and potentially dangerous" conclusion that the bomb was not viable after it was seized by officers.

He said Muhammad would "undoubtedly" have carried the bomb on to the plane or into the airport's departure lounge where he would have detonated it, and said he had been "alarmed by some of the evidence in the case".

He said: "In these dangerous times it seems to me there's no room for complacency.

"I express hope that security at the airport and policing at the airport will be subject to a review at the highest level."

The bomb was detected when the bag went through x-ray scanners before Muhammad boarded the Boeing 737 and he was detained by airport security officers.

Muhammad, of Tinline Street, Bury, told the court he had not seen the device before it was discovered in his bag and insisted it had "nothing at all" to do with him.

But the jury found him guilty of possession of explosives with intent to endanger life or property, and he sobbed in court as the verdict was read out.

Russ Jackson, responsible for the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, said: "I want to be clear that we accept there were errors made in the assessment of this item.

"Our debriefs of staff have shown that Muhammad's explanation, his demeanour when stopped, the absence of any concern in background checks and the actual initial assessment of the device, certainly led to the view at the time that this was not a suspicious incident.

"This was wrong and when the true nature of the item became clear, immediate steps were taken to arrest Muhammad and he has been successfully prosecuted and today sentenced to 18 years in prison."

The court heard there was no evidence Muhammad, who had no previous convictions, had a terrorist connection.


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