A Gold Coast man behind a terrifying airport bomb hoax has been jailed for six years, with a judge saying his “criminally appalling behaviour” could have led to “catastrophic outcomes”.
Gamal Elsaied Elboushi, 52, trembled in the dock as he learned his fate for the elaborate hoax, which brought Brisbane International Airport to a standstill.
The award-winning cinematographer will spend at least three years behind bars before being eligible for parole.
He has already spent 633 days in pre-sentence custody.
Elboushi had pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges that includef making a bomb hoax, unlawful stalking, possessing a weapon and making a false statement which can be inferred that there is a plan to damage or destroy a commonwealth air navigation facility.
The court was told on Monday that Elboushi hatched the plan after his increasing frustration with the Family Court system and not being able to see his two daughters for more than a year.
On February 2, 2019, he “ambushed” his family at Brisbane International Airport on February 2, 2019 and chased them through the terminal.
Elboushi was carrying a large knife, a fake bomb concealed inside a suitcase, a gas mask in case authorities attempted to subdue him and a number of tools.
He wore wristbands with spikes “poking out” that he claimed contained snake venom.
Terrified passengers scrambled to safety as he wandered around the food court and entered a tense standoff with authorities.
He surrendered about 9.30 that night after being subdued.
Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Kelso said Elboushi knew his actions would cause fear and terror in the public and was not deterred by law enforcement.
“There is no apology or insight into the effect his actions have had on his wife and children,” Ms Kelso told the court on Monday, saying all three had ongoing psychological issues from the incident.
His defence lawyer, Angus Edwards, said Elboushi’s actions were “a cry for help” amid his ongoing emotional turmoil but they were not “malicious”.
Judge Suzanne Sheridan sentenced him to six years’ jail with a non-parole period of three years.
She said Elboushi’s actions had a serious impact on his wife and daughters and had cost the airport more than $1 million in operational costs.
“Your actions that day caused mass panic,” Judge Sheridan told Elboushi.
“No sentence other than imprisonment is appropriate in the circumstances.
“You exposed police officers … to a highly dangerous and distressing situation with potentially catastrophic outcomes.”
“Your conduct was criminally appalling behaviour, it’s impact was very far reaching.”
Judge Sheridan said his apology needed to be considered in context as he made reference to “the inadequacy of the security system at the airport” immediately after.
She took into account his mental health issues and how his thinking was “not insightful” at the time.
“You were clearly distressed you could not see your children … it is important you understand the culture you now live in,” Judge Sheridan said.