Plane crash threat sparked major alert

A SUFFOLK man sparked a transatlantic security alert when he telephoned the Samaritans, a court has been told.

A SUFFOLK man sparked a transatlantic security alert when he telephoned the Samaritans, a court has been told.

John Beedie, 34, claimed he was a pilot who was considering bringing down the aircraft he was in charge of to end his own life.

The call was taken by a Samaritans branch in Edinburgh and after police realised that a Delta Airlines flight was shortly due to leave the city's airport for New York an urgent operation to trace the caller was put in place.

Crew aboard the aircraft were contacted and it quickly became apparent that none of them had made the call, prosecutor Claire Donovan told Ipswich Crown Court. None of the 99 passengers on board were told of the alert.

Meanwhile Borders and Lothian police in Scotland managed to trace the call to an address in Stradbroke, near Eye and officers from Suffolk police were sent to the scene.

There they found Beedie who appeared to have been drinking and whose words were slightly slurred. He was detained and initially denied all knowledge but later pleaded guilty to offences of making threats and using the public telephone network to make a menacing call.

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Miss Donovan said that during a 16 minute call to the Samaritans on August 15 last year, Beedie, of Woodfields, Stradbroke, claimed to be a pilot called Michael before changing that name to Adam and saying he was considering taking his own life along with his passengers and crew.

The operator who took the call at the Samaritan's gained the impression that Beedie was speaking

from somewhere in Edinburgh and so the very unusual decision was taken to contact the police, said Miss Donovan.

She said that some of the comments that Beedie had made did "not add up" to him being a genuine airline pilot but because of the heightened security regime in the wake of the 9/11 bombings in the USA it was decided no chances could be taken.

Miss Donovan said the flight - the only transatlantic one from Edinburgh that afternoon - was already late for other reasons and it only fitted in with the time that Beedie had called because of that delay.

The flight was later able to take off as normal.

Azza Brown, mitigating, said that Beedie claimed to have no memory of making the telephone call

but accepted the evidence. She said: "He accepts that he must have done it".

Miss Brown said that Beedie was a full-time carer for his father, who was unwell, and for his mother at their home in Stradbroke.

"He is someone who is completely overburdened by the stress of the responsibility of caring for

and looking after his parents" Miss Brown told the court.

Judge John Devaux ordered Beedie to complete 200 hours of unpaid community work and to pay �65 towards the costs of the prosecution.