Potential for major loss of life at airport incident, trial told


AN INCIDENT where a man drove a stolen airport fire vehicle around an airport apron, narrowly missing one aircraft by inches when he drove under its fuselage and stopping 10m from another aircraft, had potential to cause serious loss of life, a trial heard.

Chief of Cork Airport Police and Fire Service Ger Harvey said the incident allegedly involving Edmond Stapleton at Cork Airport on May 22nd, 2011, was one of the most dangerous he had experienced in his 32 years at the airport, which had huge potential for loss of life or injury.

There had been 180 people on a Thomas Cook charter flight and a further 180 people on an Aer Lingus flight, both parked near the terminal building, at the time while there were another 20 ground staff on the apron – all of whose lives were put at risk by the alleged actions of Mr Stapleton.

Mr Harvey said had there been an airport collision involving either a Garda 4x4 stolen earlier or an airport vehicle that was hijacked, there would have been a major incident involving fire and likely loss of life.

“I’m 32 years working in this airport and I consider this incident to have been one of the most serious – there was was potential for serious injury and loss of life to airport personnel and passengers . . . that this did not happen is nothing short of miraculous,” he said.

Mr Stapleton (38), a native of Kilbarry Cottages in Dublin Hill in Cork city, but currently of no fixed abode, denies a total of 12 charges relating to events in Cork city centre and airport on the afternoon of May 22nd, 2011.

Yesterday, the jury of nine men and three women at Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard statements from several witnesses on how gardaí and airport personnel had to take evasive action as Mr Stapleton allegedly tried to ram them while driving on the airport apron.

Airport fire officer Declan Crowley said he had been on duty the day the Manx2 flight crashed at the airport in February 2011, but the incident allegedly involving Mr Stapleton was “far more frightening”. Det Garda Emmet Daly said he was thrown from the back seat of a Garda car when Mr Stapleton rammed it.

Sgt Dan Coholan said the vehicle Mr Stapleton was driving stalled 10m from an Aer Lingus aircraft and Mr Stapleton got out armed with a knife.

He said he positioned himself between Mr Stapleton and the entrance to the aircraft as he feared he would try to board the craft and harm passengers.

He said Garda Martin O’Sullivan and Garda Alan Lyne used Taser stun guns to subdue him before he was arrested.

The case continues today.