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Man starts two fires in plane toilets causing panic among flight attendants and passengers

By Mason White 5:07 PM March 13, 2017
Commercial jet (illustration)
Commercial jet (illustration)
By: William Martin

(Scroll down for video) Flight attendants and plane passengers who were flying from the United Kingdom to Egypt, panicked after an alarm went off while they were more than 30,000 feet in the air.

46-year-old John Cox of Kidderminster, has been sentenced to four years and six months in prison after he pleaded guilty to arson.

Cox admitted to starting fires in the toilets on board a flight from Birmingham to Sharm-el-Sheikh, while cruising at an altitude of 35,000 feet.

The Birmingham Crown Court heard that while Cox was traveling on a Monarch Airbus A321 departing from Birmingham International Airport, he decided to cause mayhem.

The plane was carrying 194 passengers and seven crew members.

An hour into the flight, as it flew over Munich, Germany, an alarm was raised in the flight deck, notifying the captain and the first officer of a fire in lavatory D at the rear of the plane.

Crew members managed to put the fire out.

About 100 miles off the Egyptian coastline at 35,000 feet, the flight crew received a warning of another fire, this time in lavatory E, again at the rear of the plane.

The cabin crew investigated this and confirmed that there was another fire in the waste paper bin. They and a passenger managed to put the fire out.

While this was happening, the captain had been notified that the crew was having difficulties extinguishing the fire, and so he had declared a mayday situation and was looking to carry out an emergency landing.

It was only after the fire was out that he canceled the mayday.

Crew members and passengers identified Cox as being responsible as he had been the last person to enter the toilet before the fire was noticed.

On arrival in Sharm-el-Sheikh, the defendant was removed from the aircraft by the police and arrested.

Although he was released by the Egyptian authorities, he was subsequently arrested by West Midlands Police, when he came back to the United Kingdom.

He was later charged with and pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

“The motive of Cox behind such a senseless crime is still unclear, but what is clear is that his irresponsible actions put the lives of all passengers and crew on board the aircraft in danger.

“We commend the cabin crew for their quick action in extinguishing the fires, which prevented the situation from escalating,” Paul Reid, District Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said.