‘Grossly stupid’ event….
An Australian teenager has been deported from New Zealand after typing “I have a bomb” into an in-flight messaging app as the plane prepared to take off.
The tasteless joke forced an emergency response
The false threat made by 19-year-old Meke Fifita sparked an emergency response on Wednesday night after the Sydney-bound Air New Zealand A320 was forced to return to the gate at Auckland International Airport.
Mr Fifita, who was travelling home to Sydney from Tonga after transiting at Auckland, was charged with breaching the Civil Aviation Act for providing false information relating to the safety of an aircraft.
As an Australian citizen, Fifita faced either imprisonment or a fine.
He appeared in Manukau District Court in New Zealand yesterday where his lawyer, Jane Northwood, labelled the incident as the “grossly stupid event of the century”, but said the teenager was distressed about what he had done.
“I’ve never met anyone more distressed or remorseful and overwhelmed,” she said.
Mr Fifita was held at Mt Eden prison overnight with no family support in New Zealand.
Judge Anna Johns said Fifita’s actions came at a huge cost to New Zealand’s taxpayers, emergency services and Auckland Airport.
“Anyone with half a brain would understand that this is not a funny thing to do, given the times we live in,” Judge Johns said in court.
A reparation sum of $3000 was paid by the teenager’s father in Sydney. A staffer from Immigration NZ was at the court on Thursday afternoon to arrange his flight back to Australia, Stuff.co.nz reported.