A birthday trip to Malta got off with a bang for two young friends who ended up spending the day under preventive arrest after entering a restricted zone at the airport and damaging an emergency gate.

Conor Richard Coffey, a 27-year-old Irishman, and Stephen James McClarty, a Briton who turned 27 on Thursday, landed at the Malta International Airport  shortly after midnight on Thursday and soon found themselves in hot water.

The two friends, apparently rather tipsy, stepped into a restricted access zone without permission of the airport chief security and ended up damaging an emergency gate.

They were promptly arrested, spending the rest of the day in preventive custody instead of celebrating the birthday as planned.

The two were escorted to court on Friday, pleading guilty to the charges.

The court, presided over by magistrate Josette Demicoli, declared them guilty upon their own admission and, in view of the early guilty plea, condemned each to a two-year jail term suspended for three years and a €1,000 fine.

They were also ordered to foot the bill for repairs to the gate, totaling €5,500 which were to be paid to MIA.

Inspector Silvio Magro prosecuted.

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