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Passenger stole four life jackets as jet landed at Newcastle, court heard
11:45am Sunday 3rd March 2013 in News
A DRUNK airline passenger was told by a judge that he committed a dangerous offence when he stole life jackets from an easyJet flight.
Alexander Bolam was flying from Bristol to Newcastle International Airport after drinking 10 bottles of larger.
While on the plane the 23-year-old decided to swipe four life-jackets from under the seats as the plane came into land at Newcastle.
The theft was only discovered when air hostesses checked under the seats before the next flight and discovered they were missing.
Bolam was traced by police and arrested at his home address on Holystone Crescent, High Heaton, Newcastle, the following day.
He pleaded guilty to theft at a hearing at Newcastle Magistrates' Court.
District Judge Stephen Earl said: "I'm deeply concerned as this offence is actually dangerous.
"If the staff hadn't checked those jackets and found they weren't there, there could have been an accident and four people could have potentially died because of your actions.
"The staff, fortunately, were doing a proper job and checked under the seats after the flight had landed. If they hadn't of done, we would be talking about an entirely different set of circumstances.
"That's what deeply concerns me . It's a public safety issue rather than just theft of something from a shop, for example."
The court heard that Bolam had been on the Bristol Newcastle flight on February 4.
When the plane landed, drunk Bolam took four life jackets from under the seats, stashed them in his backpack and left the plane and airport.
But he was soon traced by officers after the theft was reported to police and, when they arrested him at home, they discovered the jackets, inflated, in his room.
Jobless Bolam, who committed the offence while subject to a suspended sentence for harassing a neighbour by spraying an offensive word on her doorstep and repeatedly kicking the door before assaulting two police officers in December, was told that once the jackets had been inflated, they couldn't be used again.
Emma Ferguson, defending, said Bolan suffered mental health issues but was hoping to gain qualifications to work on a building site or join the armed forces.
She said: "He takes anti-depressant medication and is receiving therapy and counselling.
"He was under the influence when he did thus stupid offence. He understands it is a very stupid and reckless thing to do.
"It was a wake-up call that, not only should he not drink, but he definitely shouldn't drink while on his medication."
Finign him £180, with £50 costs and a £20 victim surcharge and extending his suspended sentence by six-months, Judge Earl said: "It concerns me you put public safety at risk.
"I'm also deeply concerned about you trying to join the armed forces, but that's a different issue.
"Giving you a loaded weapon frankly causes me even more concern.
"You're on a fine line at the moment. You have been given one more chance, I'm going to tell you again, you will be sent to prison if you breach the suspended sentence or commit any further offences."