Screeners found explosive device in teen’s bag, failed to tell police until four days later
BY RYAN CORMIER AND JANA G. PRUDEN, EDMONTON JOURNAL JANUARY 16, 2014 6:23 AM
The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority said protocol wasn’t followed in the case of a teen who had a pipe bomb at the Edmonton airport in September.
Photograph by: Ed Kaiser, Postmedia News Files , Vancouver Sun
New details about an incident in which a teenager flying to Mexico in September took a pipe bomb to the Edmonton International Airport indicate that security personnel who found the device in the teen’s carry-on bag may have tried to give it back to him.
A source close to the case told Postmedia News that Skylar Murphy, 18, arrived at the airport on Sept. 20 with a camera bag that contained a pipe bomb. He had forgotten the bomb was in the bag. Eight months earlier, the teen, from Spruce Grove, Alta., and a friend had built it to blow up in a field for fun.
The device, a six-inch steel pipe containing gunpowder with 4½ feet of fuse at either end, was spotted by airport security after Murphy’s camera bag went through the X-ray machine. The source said security officers told Murphy he could keep the device, though he didn’t want it. The source, who has seen a video of the incident, said the officers can be seen pushing the device back to Murphy in an attempt to return it.
Murphy insisted he did not want the device and eventually proceeded through security without it on his way to a one-week vacation in Mexico.
RCMP were notified four days after the incident. When Murphy returned to Edmonton on Sept. 27, police were waiting for him and arrested him as soon as he left the plane.
Murphy was eventually granted bail and released into the custody of his grandparents, the source said. The source has seen a picture of the device and described it to Postmedia News.
Murphy pleaded guilty to possession of an explosive substance and was fined $100 and put on probation for a year. Among the conditions of his probation are to report to a parole officer, have no explosive substances and make a $500 donation to the University of Alberta burn unit.
Alberta Justice spokeswoman Michelle Davio said the Crown prosecutor who handled the case was away, and that there was no agreed statement of facts available to outline the details of the case.
Mathieu Larocque, a spokesman for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, said he could not comment on specific detai ls of the case – including whether screening personnel had attempted to give the pipe bomb back to Murphy.
Larocque said it is protocol to contact police immediately when something potentially illegal is located, which was not done in this case. He said an internal review was conducted, and some employees were suspended and others were ordered to take additional training. He said some training manuals were updated to ensure the protocol is followed in the future.
“It didn’t happen that day, the only thing we can do is ensure (the protocol) is followed going forward,” he said.
Federal Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt released a statement on Wednesday saying she would be contacting the president of CATSA “to ensure the organization takes further action to better protect the safety of Canadian travellers.”
“This individual should not have been allowed to board his flight, and it is unacceptable that CATSA waited four days before seeking the RCMP’s assistance,” the statement read.
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