American who allegedly made false bomb threat on SIA flight ‘a danger to the public’, denied bail

La Andy Hien Duc was charged with causing alarm and voluntarily causing hurt while travelling on board Singapore Airlines flight SQ33. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - The 37-year-old man who allegedly claimed there was a bomb on board an Singapore Airlines flight has been denied bail on Thursday as he is deemed to pose a danger to the public.

On Sept 29, La Andy Hien Duc, an American, was charged with using threatening words and voluntarily causing hurt while travelling on board SIA flight SQ33 from San Francisco to Singapore.

He allegedly shouted there was a bomb on the plane and grabbed another passenger's luggage from the cabin's overhead compartment.

He also allegedly assaulted a cabin crew member who tried to restrain him.

Hien Duc, who did not appear in court on Thursday, had applied to be released on bail.

He has been remanded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for psychiatric observation.

In her written submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lim Ying Min objected to Hien Duc being released on bail. 

DPP Lim said that the IMH psychiatrist has assessed that the accused poses a danger to the public.

She added: “The stressors of being in a foreign country, including the fact that he has no fixed place to stay and no one to monitor his compliance with his medications, are risk factors for relapse.”

The Straits Times understands that Hien Duc is diagnosed with schizophrenia. 

DPP Lim said: “The accused has a history of consuming cannabis as well. Should he gain access to drugs, it will only exacerbate his risk for relapse. 

“If anything, having the accused remanded is also in the interest of his own safety.” 

DPP Lim also said that Hien Duc was a flight risk. 

She noted that he is an American citizen with no roots in Singapore. He does not own any residential property and is not employed here. 

She said: “There is therefore a real risk that the accused will abscond should he be released on bail. If this (happens), it will erode public confidence in the criminal justice system.”
Agreeing with the reasons DPP Lim provided, District Judge Terence Tay ruled that no bail will be offered to Hien Duc.

Hien Duc's defence lawyer, Mr Johannes Hadi from the Eugene Thuraisingam law firm, asked for access to his client, which the judge granted.

Hien Duc was one of 208 passengers on board the flight, which left San Francisco at 10.26pm on Sept 26 (Sept 27, 1.26pm Singapore time). The flight was scheduled to arrive in Singapore at 5am.

Preliminary investigations revealed that he claimed there was a bomb in a hand-carry bag nearly six hours from arrival in Singapore.

The police were informed of the threat at about 2.40am on Sept 28.

Two Republic of Singapore Air Force fighter jets were activated to escort the aircraft until it landed at Changi Airport at about 5.50am.

The Ministry of Defence said on Sept 28 that teams from the Singapore Army's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives Defence Group and Airport Police Division were there to verify Hien Duc's claims.

Mindef said the threat was false.

Flight data from tracking site Flightradar24 showed the plane made three loops over the South China Sea, before continuing on to Singapore. PHOTO: FLIGHTRADAR24

Under the Tokyo Convention Act 1971, if a crime takes place in a Singapore-controlled aircraft flying outside of the country, the offender can be charged under Singapore laws.

Preliminary investigations by the Central Narcotics Bureau revealed that the man's urine tested positive for controlled drugs.

Those who use threatening words likely to cause alarm can be fined up to $5,000.

The offence of voluntarily causing hurt carries a maximum jail term of three years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Hien Duc is expected to appear in court on Oct 27.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.