PETALING JAYA: A Sri Lankan man who tried to hijack a Malaysian Airlines passenger aircraft last year with a bomb ruse was today sentenced by an Australian court to serve 12 years in jail.
Manodh Marks, who was suffering from a drug-induced psychosis during the incident, had earlier pleaded guilty to attempting to take over a plane.
Marks had tried to enter the cockpit of Malaysia Airlines flight MH128, which was flying from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur, on June 1, 2017.
According to ABC News, the 26-year-old is the first person in Australia to be sentenced for the offence of attempting to take control of an aircraft, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
It reported Melbourne County Court judge Michael McInerney as saying that Marks had run to the cockpit door and announced that he had a bomb and “wanted to destroy the plane”.
“The passengers and crew certainly were not only concerned, but convinced, that you were indeed in possession of a bomb,” he said.
The court had also heard that he took crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice, on the way to the airport, the report said.
A medical expert who assessed Marks testified that Marks had “heard screaming voices, thought the plane was about to crash and thought he had to do something”.
Marks had been initially charged with multiple offences, including endangering the safety of an aircraft. However, prosecutors dropped a number of the charges.
Passengers from the flight had said they feared for their lives when he rushed towards the cockpit shouting that he wanted to “blow the plane up”. However, the device he claimed was an explosive turned out to be a speaker.
Crew members and passengers wrestled him to the floor and tied him up before the plane made an emergency landing at Melbourne Airport.
According to Australian police, Marks had just been released from psychiatric care and boarded the plane hours later.