27-Year Old Australian Man Standing Trial in April 2014 Hijacking Scare on a Bali-Bound Virgin Australia Flight
The trial of an Australian man has commenced in Brisbane for interfering in the flight of a Virgin Australia flight in bound to Bali on April 25, 2014. Appearing before a Queensland Magistrate on Thursday, October 30, 2014, Matt Christopher Lockley, a plumber from New South Wales, entered a plea of “not guilty” to the charge of interfering with a crewmember during the subject flight.
The 28-year-old Lockley was flying to Indonesia to search for his estranged Indonesian wife, when he claims he suffered a panic attack. Waking up from a sleep he became concerned that medication in his carryon bag may had been tampered with and asked flight attendants to remove the medications and dispose of them before the plane landed in Bali. As the man’s state of panic intensified, he testified he became dizzy and disoriented, and frantically began searching for a toilet in the plane.
Saying he found the toilets at the back of the airplane all fully occupied, he rushed to the front of the jet, passing through the barrier curtain dividing economy and business class and tried to force open a door he believed to lead to a business class bathroom. The locked door was, in fact, the entrance to the airplane’s cockpit where Lockley’s behavior caused security concerns for both the cockpit crew and fellow passengers as he proceeded to pound on the door, demanding entrance.
Captain Neil Cooper, the pilot on the Virgin Australia flight, told the court, “I heard bang, bang, bang, rattle, rattle, rattle – it wasn’t a friendly knock.” The pilot had been advised earlier that the crew were dealing with a medical emergency when the pounding commenced and a coded message, signaling a possible hijack scenario was underway, was relayed to the cockpit via the plane’s intercom system. While Lockley denied to the Court that he was on drugs or drinking prior to the incident, a flight attendant testified that the man had seemed highly nervous and that the man’s pupils were dilated.
The pilot reportedly applied full throttle to hasten arrival in Bali and signaled Bali Air Traffic Control that a possible hijacking was underway. Meanwhile, on the other side or the cockpit door three passengers tackled and subdued Lockley, restraining him until members of a para-military security attachment surrounding the plane upon landing in Bali were able to board the plane and assume custody of Lockley. Indonesian authorities elected not to charge Lockley, sending him back to Australia to face charges in Brisbane. Lockley’s trial in Australia continues with the Magistrate expected to hand down a verdict in the case on December 12, 2014.
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