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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 October, 2003, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Airport arrest over toy plane
A British backpacker has revealed how customs officials in Singapore threw her in jail after mistaking "missiles" on the wings of a toy aeroplane in her luggage for live bullets.

Psychology graduate Lauren Phillips, who had bought the 2 souvenir replica of a B-52 bomber as a present for her father, said she was held in a filthy cell with five other women for 10 hours, before being freed with a warning.

The 24-year-old, from Yardley, Birmingham, had been on a round-the-world tour with a friend when she was taken into custody en route from Vietnam to Hong Kong.

Miss Phillips, a University of Nottingham graduate, said the experience had left her determined not to return to Singapore.

It was a completely humiliating and terrifying experience
Lauren Phillips
"I was trying to pass through customs when it became apparent that a delicate, small, metal B-52 aeroplane was a cause of concern.

"It was a replica war plane with missile-shaped pieces on the wings which the police believed were actually bullets."

She said she was then frisked and taken to a police station.

No apology

"Instead of apologising, the officer gave me a verbal warning and told me how stupid I had been trying to board a plane with such an item," she said.

"The cell itself was quite horrendous - it was just a bare concrete floor, there was nothing to sit on and the floor was crawling with ants."

Miss Phillips, whose travels also took in Los Angeles, Fiji, New Zealand, Thailand and Australia, is now back home in Birmingham.

She said: "It was a completely humiliating and terrifying experience - I will never go back to Singapore."

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