Man pleads guilty to trying to take control of Malaysia Airlines plane from Melbourne

A heavily-armed policeman walking through Malaysia Airlines flight MH128 to arrest the Sri Lankan man after an emergency landing in Melbourne. PHOTO: AFP

MELBOURNE - A man who threatened to bomb a Malaysia Airlines flight from Melbourne has pleaded guilty to attempting to take control of the plane, Australian media reported.

He faces up to 20 years in jail for the offence.

Sri Lankan student Manodh Marks, 25, had rushed towards the cockpit shortly after flight MH128 took off from Melbourne airport on May 31, shouting that he wanted to "blow the plane up".

Passengers wrestled him to the floor and tied him up, after which the flight turned back to Melbourne airport and made an emergency landing. Australian police had been criticised for taking over an hour to board the plane after it landed.

Manodh, who was studying to be a chef, was reported to have just been released from psychiatric care shortly before buying a ticket for the flight. The "bomb" he was carrying turned out to be a Bluetooth speaker.

According to national broadcaster ABC, Marks was initially charged with multiple offences, some of which carried a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

But prosecutors dropped a number of these, leaving Marks to plead guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court to a single charge of attempting to take control of an aircraft.

The court was told Marks, who had been living at Dandenong in Melbourne's south-east, has a psychiatric illness.

He has been remanded in custody to face a plea hearing at the County Court in April.

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