An IT specialist who typed a fictitious threat on his laptop during a flight from London in a desperate attempt to seek attention was yesterday conditionally discharged for three years.

Magistrate Lawrence Quintano handed down judgement after Briton Maximilian Adam Normile, 27, pleaded guilty to alarming the public and threatening to commit a crime when he typed the threatening message on an Air Malta flight from Heathrow on Sunday.

The message, typed in bold type for the passenger in the next seat to see, read: "If I'm not reported on the way back I'll blow the plane to pieces".

Before handing down judgement, the magistrate heard how Mr Normile's neighbouring passenger had alerted the cabin crew about the message. Mr Normile was kept under observation for the rest of the flight. The situation on board was calm.

Police investigations later revealed that Mr Normile neither had the intention nor the capability to carry out the threat which had been nothing more than an attempt to attract attention as he was feeling "sad and lonely".

Mr Normile testified behind closed doors before sentence was pronounced.

The magistrate said he wanted to take the opportunity "to warn anybody of the serious consequences which may result... if there is any form of serious misbehaviour (whether as a joke, a hoax, or because of personal problems)..."

Police Inspectors Jeffery Cilia and Angelo Caruana prosecuted.

Lawyers Edward Zammit Lewis and George Said were defence counsel.

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