A disgruntled former airport worker allegedly behind a bomb hoax often failed to follow the chain of command, his manager says.
Former aviation security officer Preetam Prakash Maid, 32, is on trial before the Dunedin District Court after pleading not guilty to a charge of taking an imitation explosive device into a security-enhanced area, under the Aviation Crimes Act.
On March 17 last year — just two days after the Christchurch mosque terror attacks — the defendant was doing a perimeter check as part of his role at Dunedin Airport.
He reported seeing a black bag in the doorway of a small hut which held technology to assist planes landing.
There appeared to be a note attached to it, Maid told his supervisor.
Crown prosecutor Robin Bates told the jury yesterday it was the defendant who put together the fake bomb and he who wrote a cryptic note that was found with it.
After the item was neutralised by emergency services, police found inside the bag had been a Sodastream butane canister, a silver cellphone and battery and wires, bound by tape.
The note read as a list: "A: Alpha, B: Birds, C: Crash, D: Dunedin, E: Emergency, F: Fools.''
A police handwriting expert was unable to form a definitive conclusion as to who penned the note.
But Bates said they found indications it was written by Maid.
While the Crown did not have to prove a motive, Bates told the jury Maid had been one of several staff members who had regularly voiced issues with the lack of security at a northern gate on the premises and concerning small, provincial flights.
Co-workers would give evidence of the defendant being "vocal or hot-headed" about the perceived problems, Bates said.
Greater security measures at the airport equalled more hours and more money for staff, he told jurors.
Maid's superior of nearly two years, Jenny-Lee Burt, described him as "diligent" but said they had addressed shortcomings in his conduct.
"Other staff would say he can't let things go. I find he often doesn't follow the chain of command," Burt said.
"He doesn't always speak to me as manager before forwarding complaints."
The police investigation began to focus on employees when some staff recognised the items that made up the fake bomb as likely to have come from a secure storage room where confiscated goods were held.
Bates said Maid's movements through the airport were analysed through his swipe card use, which revealed some anomalies.
The defendant allegedly accessed the corridor beside the storage room twice that day — an area he would not normally go — for a total of more than 20 minutes.
The court would also hear evidence of Maid using tape in the aviation-security office that day, Bates said.
Maid allegedly called various media outlets after the incident to get "maximum publicity" about the security breach.
In a brief opening statement, defence counsel Deborah Henderson said her client was not behind the imitation explosive device.
The trial, before Judge Michael Crosbie and a jury of eight women and four men, is expected to last at least two weeks and hear from nearly 50 witnesses.