Two young men guilty of “moronic behaviour” in filming a hoax bomb threat at an airport to post on You Tube escaped immediate prison sentences by the “skins of their teeth” today (Thursday, February 29).

Garard Ndela used words in Arabic before walking around a concourse at Newcastle International Airport stating: “I’m at the airport now with a bomb”, and, “I’m about to blow the airport up with a bomb”, as he carried a bag on his chest, while filming himself.

He was also being filmed by his associate Andre Antonio who, Newcastle Crown Court was told, had initially tried to persuade Ndela not to go ahead with the prank.

But a judge said it was only the fact that the threats appeared not to have had the desired effect of causing fear or panic among people at the busy airport terminal, that she could suspend the sentences on the pair.

Judge Amanda Rippon said, however, that their actions were symbolic of the attitude of some young people these days in trying to cause fear and distress just to get “likes” on social media.

The Northern Echo: Garard Ndela, left, and Andre Antonio have both now admitted taking part in the bomb hoax stunt at

Ndela, 20, of Ellison Villas, Gateshead, and his 21-year-old co-accused, of Chestnut Avenue, Cowgate, Newcastle, both admitted communicating false information with intent to make airport staff and users to think a bomb was present.

The court heard they were approached by police and airport security and told to stop filming before being arrested, on the afternoon of July 3 last year.

Ndela spent the following week in custody as his “prank”, which he intended to post on YouTube, backfired.

Rachael Glover, prosecuting, said following further inquiries police became aware of a similar incident filmed by Ndela at Eldon Square, Newcastle, but it was accepted that, too, was a “prank” and it was not pursued.

Brian Hegarty, for Ndela, said it had to be accepted that the defendant had shown, “breathtaking stupidity”, without giving “proper thought” to the potential effect of his actions.

Mr Hegarty said it was not “particularly preconceived”, as his client and his accomplice had gone to the airport with a friend who was taking a flight.

“It was a spur of the moment thing and he had not thought of it in advance.

“Had he thought it through, though, none of us would have been here.

“This horribly misconceived prank was then carried out by the defendant.

“He appears to be laughing through much of the incident and it appears no-one took him particularly seriously.

“It doesn’t seem to have caused any panic and he didn’t persist with it for very long.

“When police officers arrived the severity of the situation seems to have dawned on him and he desisted pretty quickly.

“He was compliant from there on in.

“The stupidity of the action has dawned on him. It should have done before, but that is undoubtedly the case now.

“What I would say on his behalf is that this was not a hoax or prank that endured for any significant length of time, and didn’t cause any great despair

“His motivation was not to cause distress and disruption.

“It was a most misconceived attempt at levity to cause humour on line.

“No matter how misguided that was, it didn’t cause an evacuation or delay to any flights or disruption to any passengers hoping to catch flights.

“When interviewed, he fully accepted his offending.”

Mr Hegarty said that despite being “intelligent and articulate”, on the day in question he was, “oblivious to the seriousness of the incident.”

But, having spent a week in custody, it has “brought home to him” how serious the situation was that he had got himself into through his actions.

Mr Hegarty said Ndela has “no experience” of the criminal justice system, with no previous convictions or cautions.

He added that the defendant had ended his education to pursue a "career" on YouTube.

The Northern Echo:

Josh Normanton, for Antonio, said the plan developed while they were at the airport, after their friend took a flight.

Mr Normanton said he gave no encouragement to his co-accused and after trying to talk him out of it, he did go along with it by carrying on filming the incident.

“It was a wholly stupid adventure and clearly based on a cultural shift towards certain immoral behaviour that is sometimes considered acceptable by people who use TikTok and YouTube.

“Young people and their moral approach to life has shifted.”

Mr Normanton said his client, who is also of previous good character, is a promising academic and sportsman, having previously played in the Newcastle Eagles basketball academy, while he hopes to pursue a degree in psychology at university in Manchester.

Judge Rippon told the defendants having viewed the footage they filmed, she was watching the actions of “two idiots” that day.

“It’s the most moronic behaviour, but no-one paid any attention to it.”

She said it was aggravated, however, by Ndela’s use of Arabic, implying he was some sort of Islamic terrorist.

“It was a deliberate attempt by you to cause fear. It didn’t, however.”

She said it appeared to be to Ndela’s disappointment that it had not caused the great fear he thought it may, as people in the vicinity went about their business at the airport.

Judge Rippon said had just one person shown any fear as a result of their actions, both would have received immediate prison sentences.

“You have come within the skins of your teeth to going to prison.”

She imposed a nine-month sentence on Ndela, suspended for two years, with 20 rehabilitation activity days to complete with the Probation Service and he must also undergo 200-hours of unpaid work.

Antonio was given a five-month sentence, also suspended for two years.

See more court stories from The Northern Echo, by clicking here

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He must also complete 20 rehabilitation activity days and carry out 150-hours of unpaid work.

To Ndela’s apparent dismay, Judge Rippon also ordered forfeiture of all the devices seized by police at the scene.

As they were about to leave the dock, the judge added: "Let's not meet again gentlemen, and find something more constructive to do with your time."