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Tuesday, 10 September, 2002, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Air passenger jailed for using mobile
Faiz Chopdat
Faiz Chopdat was told to switch his mobile phone off
A passenger who played a game on his mobile phone during a flight has been jailed for four months.

Faiz Chopdat, 23, from Blackburn, Lancashire, was convicted of recklessly endangering the safety of an aircraft.

At the sentencing at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court, Judge Timothy Mort called for mobiles to be confiscated from passengers.

He said switching on a mobile during a flight could prove fatal by causing the autopilot to malfunction.

Creates 'risk'

Judge Mort said: "It seems to me that anyone who leaves a mobile phone switched on creates some risk, and maybe the situation has been reached when we have to consider if mobile phones should be confiscated before transit."

At Chopdat's trial, the court had heard he had been seen pressing buttons on the phone on board the Boeing 747 jet from Luxor in Egypt to Manchester, on 10 September last year.

Passengers had been told to switch off their mobile phones for the duration of the flight.

Prosecutor Steven Johnson told how, about an hour from Manchester, a passenger and then a flight attendant noticed Chopdat's phone was on and the screen illuminated.


It's a 'clang of the gate' sentence

Judge Timothy Mort

A female member of the cabin crew asked him to turn it off but 15 minutes later it was noticed it was on again.

Staff on the Air 2000 flight were so concerned they radioed ahead and Chopdat was arrested on touch-down at Manchester.

Judge Mort said he had the power to jail the Chopdat for a maximum of two years.

"You turned the mobile on three times and you were given clear warnings from the cabin crew," he said.

'Serious' offence

"The consequences were potentially very serious.

"I think this offence is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified.

"It must be in order to deter people from turning on their mobile phones while on a plane.

"It's a 'clang of the gate' sentence."

Roger Hedgeland, for Chopdat, said his client had no previous convictions, and was acting with "some sort of bravado" on his return from honeymoon.

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The BBC's Catherine Marston
"The consequences could be fatal"

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See also:

19 Aug 02 | England
30 Jun 99 | UK
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