Man stole a life jacket from flight

A senior member of security personnel at Shannon airport believed a stolen life jacket contained in luggage was an improvised explosive device (IED).

At Gort District Court, Rohit Sharma, aged 37, of Sunbury on Thames, Surrey, England, escaped a jail term after pleading guilty to the stealing of the life jacket from the Aer Lingus London-Shannon flight on Tuesday.

Judge Patrick Durcan told Mr Sharma at Ennis District Court on Wednesday that a prison sentence was foremost in his mind and remanded the company director to re-appear before Gort District Court yesterday.

In court yesterday, India-born, Mr Sharma broke down in the witness box: “I have brought shame on the family and everyone. I am sorry for what I did I will never, ever do anything like this in my life.”

Mr Sharma said that stealing the life jacket “was a moment of madness”.

Earlier in court, senior security officer at Shannon Airport, Pat Slattery said that a silent alarm went off on his phone at 12.10pm on Wednesday to alert him of a suspicious item found at the security check-in.

He said: “When I checked the X-ray machine the item looked like an improvised explosive device.”

Mr Sharma was travelling back to Britain on Wednesday with the life jacket.

Mr Sharma’s solicitor, Catriona Carmody, told the court that Mr Sharma stole the life jacket for his eight-year-old daughter who goes kayaking.

Aer Lingus official Patrick Glynn said that Aer Lingus staff had spotted that the life jacket was missing as part of a routine security check and the life jacket was replaced for the next flight.

In sentencing, Judge Durcan said at first sight, the manner appears to be a minor one — the theft of an item worth €50.

However, Judge Durcan said: “The matter is otherwise as the life jacket is in place for the saving of life of a passenger in the very unlikely event of an aircraft getting into difficulty.”

Judge Durcan fined Mr Sharma €1,000.

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