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Pair cleared over Stansted bomb threat: Judge critical of "tenuous" trial

Judge Charles Gratwicke has described the trial of two men who were accused of endangering an aircraft that had to be diverted to Stansted Airport in Essex as "tenuous and peppered with inconsistencies''.

Tayyab Subhani and Mohammed Safdar were cleared at at Chelmsford Crown Court this morning.

The judge added:

"Under the circumstances no jury can properly convict these men."

– Judge Charles Gratwicke

Read more: Pair cleared of threatening to blow up diverted Stansted plane

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Pair cleared of threatening to blow up diverted Stansted plane

Tayyab Subhani and Mohammed Safdar arrive at Chelmsford Crown Court this morning.
Tayyab Subhani and Mohammed Safdar arrive at Chelmsford Crown Court this morning. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Two men have been cleared of threatening to blow up a plane that was diverted to Stansted Airport in May.

Tayyab Subhani and Mohammed Safdar were found to not be guilty of endangering the aircraft at Chelmsford Crown Court this morning.

Steward tells court that a passenger threatened to kill him on board diverted Stansted flight

The diverted jet.
The diverted jet. Credit: ITV News

A senior flight steward on board the Pakistan International Airlines flight which was diverted to Stansted on May 24 this year has told Chelmsford Crown Court that he and his family have been very worried since alleged threats were made against him.

Ghulan Shabir Mahar has been telling the jury his account of what happened in the air.

He said he asked Mohammed Safdar to return to his seat three times after he came forward offering to help an ill passenger.

He described how Safdar became angry and said "I'll finish you. I will kill you."

Mr Mahar said other passengers became aware of the situation and were asking him to return to his seat.

He alleges Mr Safdar replied "everyone sit down. No one should come near me otherwise I will blow up everyone."

42-year-old Mohammed Safdar and 30-year-old Tayyab Subhani were arrested when flight PK 709 from Lahore to Manchester was diverted to Stansted and police went on board.

Mr Mahar claims that Mr Subhani encouraged his friend and said "We will see you. We will fix you anywhere in Pakistan or we will find you anywhere."

The two men deny endangering the safety of an aircraft. The trial continues.

Plans for new hub-airport

by Emma Hutchinson

Plans have been unveiled for a new hub-airport in the Thames estuary, to the east of London, to tackle growing airport capacity problems.

Last year the government set up the UK Airports Commission to look at options for expansion in southern England. Since then bosses at Stansted, Gatwick and Heathrow have expressed their desire to build more runways.

Now, designs for a massive floating airport are in the spotlight. But if it goes ahead, would Stansted miss out? Our Political Correspondent Emma Hutchinson reports.

Jury hears accusations of death threats made on board diverted Stansted plane

by Serena Sandhu

A jury in the trial of two men accused of threatening to blow up a plane in mid air, have been hearing from passengers who say that death threats were made on board.

Tayyab Subhani and Mohammed Safdar deny endangering the safety of an aircraft.

A flight from Pakistan to Manchester was diverted to Stansted in May this year.

Click below to watch a report from ITV News Anglia's Serena Sandhu

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Passenger on diverted Stansted plane makes death threat accusation

The diverted jet.
The diverted jet. Credit: ITV News

A passenger on a plane from Pakistan that was diverted to Stansted has told a court she heard a defendant make death threats to a steward.

Mohammed Safdar and Tayyab Subhani are accused of threatening to blow up the plane in mid air.

Both deny making false threats that the crew and passengers would be killed and the plane blown up before landing.

Ferzana Rana told the jury Safdar said to a male steward in Urdu "I'm going to kill you."

She described his behaviour as "firm and abrupt" and heard him mumble "you can do what you want, call the police. I'm ready for anything."

Prosecutor Brian O'Neill asked her "had you heard the word bomb or anything suggesting the presence of one?"

Rana replied "No."

Once the plane had been diverted to Stansted Rana said she heard Safdar and Subhani jokingly say "I bet they think there's a bomb on the plane."

Stansted bomb threat trial gets underway

The trial has begun of two men accused of threatening to blow up a passenger plane in mid air.

Tayyab Subhani, 30, and Mohammed Safdar, 42, from Lancashire, were passengers on a flight from Pakistan to Manchester, which was diverted to Stansted in May this year.

Both men have denied making false threats that the crew and passengers would be killed and the aircraft blown up before landing. Victoria Lampard was in court.

Court told: Threats resulted in 'fear and panic'

Police at Stansted Credit: ITV News

Tayyab Subhani, 30, and Mohammed Safdar, 42, deny charges of endangering a passenger aircraft.

The court heard some passengers had reported seeing the men, returning from Safdar's mother's funeral with his daughter and niece, behaving in a "rude and aggressive" manner before the flight took off.

When cabin crew made an announcement asking for a medical professional to assist an elderly passenger who had fallen ill, Safdar offered his services.

The crew established he had no medical credentials and turned him away, resulting in a confrontation, the court heard.

Safdar, encouraged by Subhani, then made threats to kill crew and passengers, resulting in "fear and panic", Mr O'Neill said.

The alleged threats, made in Urdu, included the words: "No more crew, no more passengers, finish everything."

Safdar is also alleged to have made stabbing hand gestures.

The pilot, who described the incident as the most serious of his career, contacted UK air traffic control and was instructed to begin emergency procedures.

The trial is expected to last five weeks.

Jury told: neither accused a "terrorist or extremist'

Chelmsford Crown Court jurors heard neither was a "terrorist nor a political or religious extremist".

Prosecutor Brian O'Neill QC said that although neither man was capable of carrying out the threats, the claim had been made deliberately and the pilot had no option but to take it seriously.

He said the day Pakistan airlines flights PK709 took off from Lahore heading for Manchester. It never arrived at its intended destination.

As a result of the behaviour of these two defendants, especially Mr Safdar, the flight had to be diverted to Stansted and was escorted by two RAF Typhoon fighter jets.

This behaviour involved threats to kill members of the cabin crew, threats to kill passengers and threats to blow up the plane whilst it was in flight.

Such utterances, if made at ground level, may sometimes be capable of being ignored or not being taken seriously but when those threats are made in flight at 30,000 feet on a commercial jet, that's not an option."

– Brian O'Neill QC
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