Police said officers 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, police said.
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, according to police.
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, police said.
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, police said.
He has also been banned from Gatwick Airport.
Detective Constable Stephen Trott, Investigating officer, 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, confirmed police.
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