Aeroplane steward quizzed over Pendle man’s ‘bomb threat’

Two men  charged with endangering an aircraft after a passenger jet was diverted mid-flight
Two men charged with endangering an aircraft after a passenger jet was diverted mid-flight

The chief steward on the Pakistan International Airlines flight diverted to Stansted under fighter escort after an alleged bomb threat has been recalled to the witness box at Chelmsford Crown Court and quizzed again about his evidence there last week.

Ghulam Shabir Mahar was recalled after claims he told an earlier internal PIA inquiry he only heard an reference to a bomb when the captain made an announcement after the landing at Stansted.

Mr Mahar was cross-examined on the alleged differences between his evidence at the inquiry and his evidence during the court hearing. He said at the court hearing he had heard threats to “blow up” the plane at 30,000ft prior to it being diverted from Manchester to Stansted under escort from two RAF fighters.

He was giving evidence in the second week of the trial of Tayyab Subhani (30) of Townley Street, Brierfield, and Mohammed Safdar (42), of Hallam Street, Nelson, deny on May 24th endangering the safety of the plane by communicating intentionally that some passengers and crew would be killed and the aircraft blown up.

During his earlier evidence Mr Mahar told the court, referring to Safdar: “He became very angry and kept on that he would blow up everyone and told them no-one should go near him.”

However, questioned about new evidence disclosed last Friday about the internal inquiry, he was asked by one of the defence lawyers, Simon Mayo QC: “One question you were asked was ‘had these passengers at any time threatened to blow up the plane?’ and you’re answer was ‘no.’

Mr Mahar replied: “He was shouting and threatening other passengers. He was extremely unruly.”

Asked: “If what you told this hearing was true, why did you not tell the inquiry?” He replied: “He did threaten. The plane landed at another airport because of this threat. It was not my decision, it was the passengers and somebody else’s decision.”

In answer to further question about his evidence, he told the jury: “Whatever I’ve told the court on oath is based on truth and what I’ve told the police is also true. The plane didn’t land on my decision. The plane was landed as an emergency because of this threat.”

Asked: “Is the truth of the matter, the first time you heard anything about a bomb threat was after the plane landed and the captain made an announcement?” He replied: “It was before that.”

During interviews with the police, Safdar, a restaurant worker, said after being told about the allegation of blowing up the plane: “It’s all lies. The steward was encouraging passengers to make up lies.”

He denied making any bomb threat and claimed he had taken nothing on board that could cause harm and had no intention of causing harm.”

The court was told Subhani, a supermarket worker and taxi driver, described the allegations as “bullshit and a load of lies” and said Safdar had told the steward he had “no manners” and “didn’t know how to speak to passengers.”

The hearing continues on Thursday.