Aircraft diverted to Broome after male passenger breaks down

by Alfie FEATHERSTONE on November 23, 2010

Authorities have said that it remains unclear as to whether a man that was taken into custody for aggressive behaviour, after his flight was forced to divert to Broome from his actions, was high on drugs at the time.

The Virgin Blue aircraft was headed from Indonesia to Melbourne yesterday, when the 45-year old had to be restrained after becoming distressed. Passengers who witnessed the incident said that the experience was frightening as the man struggled with staff and was clearly agitated.

An off-duty prison guard finally handcuffed the man and the flight landed in Broome where the man was taken into custody. Since then he has been flown to Perth, under the care of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, where he will be evaluated for mental issues.

Constable John Horton responded to the scene arriving on the tarmac and taking the man into custody. He said that it was not clear if the gentleman suffered from psychiatric issues or if any offence had actually be committed. He also added it was possible the Federal Police could step in.

Nick Belyea, general manager for the Broome airport, said it was hard since the call came in as an unexpected arrival at 4:00 am. He added that the airport had just a half hours notice and in that time was forced to mobilise customs as well as quarantine and handle 150 passengers on the aircraft.

All other passengers were flown back home to Melbourne after the situation had been handled.

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