Angus man avoids jail following airport incident

Brass Scales of Justice
Brass Scales of Justice

A man who threatened to “wipe out” a Scottish airport in the wake of November’s Paris attacks after claiming he’d just returned from fighting in Syria was spared jail this week.

Jonathon Gourlay (42) told terrified staff at Glasgow Airport he had spent two decades in the military and had just returned from the war-torn country.

But the Canadian, who now lives in Kirriemuir, is actually a master carpenter, has never been in the armed forces, and has only ever been to Syria on holiday.

Gourlay, who moved to the UK 15 years ago, could have been jailed for up to 12 months over the bizarre incident, but was spared prison after a sheriff was told he was still suffering from injuries sustained when he was violently attacked in his home.

Gourlay’s Syria rant took place at the Renfrewshire airport at 8.45am on Monday, November 16 last year. Procurator fiscal depute Claire Nicholls said an EasyJet employee was on duty at the time and spotted Gourlay.

The prosecutor explained: “She observed the accused Jonathon Gourlay wearing a flat cap and glasses, staggering around as if he was drunk and went over to assist him.

“He stated he wanted to purchase a ticket to Canada. The witness explained that EasyJet did not fly to Canada and he asked for a ticket to Amsterdam.

“The witness explained he was too drunk to be sold a ticket and suggested he return once sober. He became agitated and aggressive and stated, ‘I’ve just pulled out of Syria’.

“She tried to reason with him but he stated, ‘I was in the military for 21 years and was messed up. You don’t understand - I could wipe you out. I’m very high up in the military - I could wipe you all out’.”

The police were contacted and they arrived at the EasyJet desk to deal with the situation.

Gourlay was arrested and held in police custody until the following morning, when he pleaded guilty to behaving in a way which would cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm by shouting and swearing at the airport.

Gourlay, was given 12 months to carry out 150 hours’ unpaid work, and was told the length of time can be extended if he can’t complete it due to his injuries.

For more on this story, see this week’s Kirremuir Herald.