RCMP believed teen with pipe bomb didn’t plan to blow up airplane: court documents
Published Thursday, January 16, 2014 3:27PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 16, 2014 8:47PM EST
The RCMP believed that an Alberta teenager unwittingly brought a pipe bomb with him to the airport last fall and had no intention of blowing up a plane, court documents reveal.
According to the court transcript of a Dec. 5, 2013 hearing for Skylar Vincent Murphy, the now 19-year-old told police that he forgot the pipe bomb was inside his camera bag when he went through security at the Edmonton International Airport on Sept. 20.
Murphy told investigators that he and a friend had built the 5 ½-inch pipe bomb with intentions to blow up an old shed and photograph the blast. He said he’d forgotten about the bomb inside his camera bag before he took it with him for a trip to Mexico.
The pipe bomb was seized from Murphy when he went through screening at the airport, but he was still allowed to board his flight, prompting outrage when details of the incident were revealed this week.
A source who claims to have seen surveillance footage of Murphy’s airport screening told CTV Edmonton that a screening officer didn’t appear to know he was handling a pipe bomb when he pulled the item out of the teen’s bag.
The source said the officer is seen in the video taking the device apart and then calling over a supervisor. Eventually, the pipe bomb was handed back to Murphy, but he declined to take it, the source said.
Even though there are panic buttons that can be pushed if weapons or suspicious items are found during airport screening, it took the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority four days to notify the RCMP about the pipe bomb seizure, after a supervisor became aware of it.
Murphy, who was 18 at the time of the incident, was arrested upon his return to Canada on Sept. 27, 2013.
After he pleaded guilty to possession of an explosive substance on Dec. 5, Murphy told the judge that he took some ammunition from his mother’s fiancé without his knowledge and bought items from the local hardware store in order to build the pipe bomb with his friend.
He said he had no intention of bringing the bomb on his flight, but forgot all about it.
According to court transcripts, Murphy’s friend corroborated the story.
Police took him for his word and noted that on the airport surveillance video, it was “obvious” that Murphy was shocked when the pipe bomb was pulled out of his bag.
However, the judge was very stern with Murphy, according to court transcripts, calling the teen “incredibly irresponsible” and telling him that he could have ended up in a Mexican jail had the pipe bomb not been seized in Edmonton.
The judge also scolded Murphy for his plans to blow up a shed, saying such activities “are not kicks.”
Murphy, who works in a grocery store as an assistant deli manager, was sentenced to one year of probation and fined $100. The judge also gave him until the end of February to make a $500 donation to the University of Alberta burn unit.
After Transport Minister Lisa Raitt slammed CATSA for allowing Murphy to board the plane after his pipe bomb was seized and waiting four days to notify the RCMP, the screening authority admitted that it should have contacted police sooner.
After a full review of the incident, CATSA said that “corrective actions” have been taken and some staff were disciplined.
With a report from CTV Edmonton’s David Ewasuk