Australian in Singapore to plead guilty to hoax bomb threat expected to be home by Christmas

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An Australian man in Singapore’s Changi Prison could be released by Christmas after indicating he would plead guilty to making a hoax bomb threat on a flight that had just departed the South-East Asian island nation.

Kevin Hawkins has been remanded in jail in Singapore since October, accused of telling crew members on an aircraft travelling from the city-state to Perth that he had a bomb on board.

Kevin Hawkins had stopped taking medicine for schizophrenia in the lead-up to the incident.Credit: Facebook

After the threat was made, the plane, operated by Singapore Airlines’ low-cost arm Scoot, returned to Changi Airport, escorted by two Republic of Singapore Air Force fighter jets.

Hawkins was charged in Singapore with making false threats of terrorist acts, an offence that can be punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.

But the 30-year-old, who has schizophrenia, is expected to receive a far lighter penalty. He appeared in Singapore court by video link on Monday as his defence counsel SS Dhillon said he would not contest the charges.

Two Republic of Singapore Air Force F-15SGs were scrambled to escort the plane back to the city-state.Credit: Nine

He told the court he had raised sentencing with prosecutors and been told they would recommend Hawkins be released shortly, having already been detained for three months.

Hawkins was subsequently granted an expedited court hearing this Friday at which he will plead guilty. It is possible he will then be free to return to Australia before Christmas.

The West Australian man had been held and assessed at the Singapore Institute of Mental Health before being transferred to Changi Prison in October.

Police alleged he had told a cabin crew member “I have a bomb” and uttered the word “bomb” on other occasions, forcing the pilot to turn the plane around about 40 minutes after it took off from Singapore.

There were 362 passengers on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft and some spoke afterwards of the scare they received at the sight of the fighter jets through the windows, and the news from the cockpit that there had been a bomb threat, albeit one thought to be fake.

But prosecutors will have taken into account Hawkins’ mental disorder when determining their stance on a sentence.

He had stopped taking his medication for schizophrenia in the lead-up to the mid-air incident and his father Frank told The West Australian newspaper last month that it was obviously “voices” in Hawkins’ head that led him to make the hoax bomb threat.

He had been flying back to Perth with his wife Suraset after they had visited her family on the Thai island of Phuket.

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