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American on Singapore flight found guilty of slapping cabin crew – but cleared over bomb threat

File photo: A Singapore Airlines plane plies along the tarmac of Singapore Changi Airport in Singapore (AFP via Getty Images)
File photo: A Singapore Airlines plane plies along the tarmac of Singapore Changi Airport in Singapore (AFP via Getty Images)

An American national accused of triggering panic through a bomb hoax on a Singapore airlines flight, and sending authorities to scramble fighter jets, was sentenced to four weeks in prison on Friday – but on the different count of slapping a crew member.

La Andy Hien Duc has been found guilty of causing hurt to the cabin crew member after he pleaded guilty to the charge on Singapore Airlines flight SQ33 departing San Francisco to Singapore on 28 September.

Duc said he slapped the member of the cabin crew when efforts were being made to restrain him.

The criminal charges against the 37-year-old over the bomb threat were dropped by authorities on considering expert assessment of his mental health.

The man has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, his lawyer Johannes Hadi informed the court.

According to the lawyer, Duc said he was hearing voices for around a year and a half before that.

Duc said he believed he was a holy deity who had to go to Phuket for a pilgrimage.

During the flight, which was also his first overseas trip since childhood, Duc said he heard a voice in his head about a bomb on the plane asking him to alert others by shouting.

Before boarding the flight, he had knowingly eaten a chocolate bar mixed with cannabis, the court was told.

Duc allegedly shouted the bomb hoax twice.

Following the incident, the plane had to be escorted to Singapore by fighter jets belonging to the city-state’s air force.

In the sentence hearing, the judge said: “His delusionary beliefs, auditory hallucinations, as well as psychotic thought disorder have greatly contributed to his offending behaviour.”

The court backdated the man’s jail term to his arrest.

He is now set to be released on Friday and return to the US.