Man threatened Glasgow Airport staff in wake of Paris attacks

The Canadian national threatened to 'wipe out' staff at Glasgow Airport. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The Canadian national threatened to 'wipe out' staff at Glasgow Airport. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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A FOREIGNER threatened to “wipe out” everyone at Glasgow Airport in the wake of November’s Paris attacks - after claiming he’d just returned from fighting in Syria.

Jonathon Gourlay told terrified staff he had spent two decades in the military and had just returned from the war-torn country.

But the 42-year-old Canadian is actually a carpenter, has never been in the armed forces, and has only ever been to Syria on holiday.

Paisley Sheriff Court heard the incident took place at the Renfrewshire airport on Monday, November 16 last year.

Gourlay’s rant began at 8.45am - 60 hours after the Paris attacks, which left 130 people dead and a further 368 injured, had started.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, more commonly known as ISIL or ISIS, claimed they had carried out the Friday night attacks in response to French airstrikes on ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq.

And while Europe was still reeling from the atrocities - which saw 89 people slain during the Eagles of Death Metal gig at the Bataclan theatre - Gourlay went to Glasgow Airport to vent his frustrations.

Procurator fiscal depute Claire Nicholls said an EasyJet employee was on duty at the time and spotted Gourlay.

The prosecutor explained: “She observed the accused Jonathon Gourlay wearing a flat cap and glasses, staggering around as if he was drunk and went over to assist him.

“He stated he wanted to purchase a ticket to Canada.

“The witness explained that EasyJet did not fly to Canada and he asked for a ticket to Amsterdam.

• READ MORE: Scotland ‘under prepared’ for Paris-style attack

“The witness explained he was too drunk to be sold a ticket and suggested he return once sober.

“He became agitated and aggressive and stated, ‘I’ve just pulled out of Syria’.

“She tried to reason with him but he stated, ‘I was in the military for 21 years and was messed up. You don’t understand - I could wipe you out. I’m very high up in the military - I could wipe you all out’.”

The police were contacted and they arrived at the EasyJet desk to deal with the situation.

Nicholls added: “The accused began shouting, saying, ‘I’ve been a prisoner of war, I’ve been in Syria fighting and if I don’t get a flight I’m going to sort you all out’.”

Gourlay was arrested and held in police custody until the following morning, when he pleaded guilty to behaving in a way which would cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm by shouting and swearing at the airport.

Sentence was deferred for background reports and he returned to the dock this week to be sentenced.

The court heard he could not be sentenced as he had been in Canada caring for a sick relative when he was supposed to have a vital meeting with social workers.

Defence solicitor Amy Spencer told the court that Gourlay had never been in the military or a prisoner of war, had only been in Syria on holiday so he could see family and had not been fighting when he was there.

She said that Gourlay, who lives in Kirriemuir, Angus, had been in the UK for the last 15 years and was a carpenter to trade.

The lawyer also said that Gourlay had a drinking problem but had managed to say sober for two years - until he was assaulted and robbed in his home in October.

She added: “He is ashamed of his behaviour.

“He suffered a substantial head injury and requires surgery to his right eye.

“He was struggling to function normally as a result of the attack, relapsed and was drinking excessively.”

She said that Gourlay was so drunk at the time he could not remember what he’d done but accepted that the police, airport staff and members of the public would not be lying about what he’d done.

Sheriff Susan Sinclair released Gourlay on bail and deferred sentence until next month, when he could be jailed for up to a year.

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