A NORTHERN Ire-land man who threatened to hijack a plane bound for Ireland in February was sentenced to 116 days in jail on Tuesday, June 24. Aiden Mackle, 44, of Portadown, Co. Armagh, was sentenced on charges of assault and interfering with flight crew aboard a plane from Georgia to Ireland. Mackle has already served his 116 days behind bars. He was ordered to pay $20,030 compensation to Delta Airlines and undergo two years supervised release. Mackle is expected to be deported back to Ireland in the coming weeks.Mackle, who had been detained in jail in Bangor, Maine since the incident, boarded a flight from Atlanta to Dublin on February 29, but due to his unruly drunken behavior the pilot of the Delta flight was forced to divert the plane to Bangor where Mackle was arrested by FBI agents.A U.S. District Court in Bangor was told in March that cabin crew of the Delta flight had to pin down Mackle after he became physically abusive and informed them he was going to "blow up the plane."Mackle, who was on his way home from visiting his sister in California, consumed several small bottles of wine prior to the planes departure, passengers told FBI agents. During the flight, Mackle, who runs a washing machine repair business in Ireland, switched seats on the flight and told a passenger sitting next to him that he was going to have a cigarette. After the smell of smoke became obvious from the plane's bathroom, a flight attendant confronted Mackle, who denied smoking and became abusive.The captain of the flight was informed of Mackle's disorderly behavior, and an off duty pilot was asked to take charge of the situation. According to court documents, Mackle claimed to be affiliated with Osama bin Laden and told crewmembers he was going to hijack the plane. When asked to calm down, Mackle purportedly replied, "Okay, I'm a terrorist. Go ahead and land the plane."The pilot then decided to land the plane with 185 passengers on board at Bangor International Airport.His boisterous behavior continued, and crewmembers on the flight were forced to pin Mackle down and restrain him in handcuffs. He refused to inform the attendants where his carry on bag was stowed.During his hearing Mackle pleaded guilty and apologized to the court for his behavior.A letter written by Mackle's sister and read out during his hearing in March stated that her brother suffered from bipolar disorder and alcoholism.The judge presiding over Mackle's case, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock told the court it was "ironic" that Mackle, a citizen of Northern Ireland appeared in a courtroom which was once presided over by Senator George Mitchell, a key negotiator in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement in the North.
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