BANGOR (AP) – A federal judge denied bail Monday for a passenger accused of threatening to blow up a jetliner bound for Dublin, Ireland, saying alcohol and mental health issues make him a flight risk.

Aiden Simon Mackle, 44, of Portadown, Northern Ireland, was ordered detained pending trial on charges of assault and interfering with a flight crew while en route from Atlanta. He is accused of telling a Delta Air Lines employee that he was a terrorist after drinking and becoming unruly on Flight 146, which was diverted to Bangor International Airport on March 1.

After a 40-minute hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk found probable cause for the charges and sided with Amie Blanchette of the U.S. Probation Office who testified that Mackle should be detained to insure that he will show up for trial.

Kravchuk took note of Mackle’s lack of prior criminal involvement, strong community ties in Northern Ireland and supportive family, both in the United Kingdom and in the U.S. But those factors, she said, were outweighed by his history of alcohol abuse and mental health problems.

Noting that Mackle has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the judge quoted his sister as saying he falls victim to “depressive drunken rages” when that illness combines with alcohol abuse.

Kravchuk also said Mackle has been under stress because of his parents’ illnesses, the death of his brother-in-law and financial and emotional strains of repeated trips to San Diego to help his sister. While in the U.S., the judge said, he has shut down his appliance repair business, leaving him with no income or apparent means of support.

Mackle’s problems on the plane began after he had been drinking and went into the restroom and smoked a cigarette, a violation of federal rules, according to an FBI affidavit. He then became verbally abusive to a flight attendant, telling her he was associated with Osama bin Laden and was going to hijack the plane.

After being told that the flight may have to make an emergency landing, Mackle told an off-duty pilot, “OK, I’m a terrorist. Go ahead and land the plane,” and then proceeded to punch an off-duty Delta flight attendant who warned him that he may have to be restrained, the affidavit said.

The Boeing 767, with 184 other passengers aboard, spent about two hours on the ground at Bangor International Airport before resuming the flight.

AP-ES-03-10-08 1714EDT


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