4 November 2023

Teen accused of walking in front of plane at Canberra Airport just before take-off

| Albert McKnight

The 19-year-old (right) was comforted by her aunt after she was granted bail on Friday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

The teenager accused of walking up to a plane while it was on the tarmac of the Canberra Airport was seen physically shaking when she formally charged over the allegations.

The 19-year-old, whom the media has currently chosen not the name, allegedly entered a secure area at the airport on Wednesday (1 November), then walked across the tarmac and stood in front of a plane that was about to take off.

When she faced the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday (3 November), prosecutor Tahni Whybrow alleged the risks to both her and the people on the plane were significant.

She was charged with endangering safety by disrupting services at an airport, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years’ jail.

She was also charged with entering a secure area without permission, possessing cannabis and two counts of damaging property.

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These last charges accuse her of damaging a fire alarm’s glass panel and an emergency door release belonging to the Canberra Airport Group.

The teenager applied for bail, which was opposed by Ms Whybrow over the alleged risk of reoffending, as well as to the risks to the welfare of herself and others.

Duty lawyer, Lorenna Wienert of Legal Aid, said her client’s family was in Adelaide and she had been studying at university in Canberra while living with housemates.

She had been taken to hospital for a mental health assessment on Thursday (2 November) and while she had been brought to court, her lawyer said there was yet to be a further investigation into her mental health.

Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker said it appeared the teenager was experiencing some type of mental health crisis that led her to allegedly engage in conduct that caused a risk of harm to herself and potentially others.

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She was satisfied she had strong family support in the community which could assist her in addressing what was happening.

Bail was granted on several conditions, including that she be supervised by Corrective Services, stay in the ACT and not go to the Canberra Airport.

The chief magistrate ordered a brief mental health report and adjourned until later in November in order to prepare the report.

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