Supervisor noticed odd behaviour

Cr Aaron Hawkins is calling for a bus route between the Dunedin Airport and the city. Photo:...
Photo: Gregor Richardson
A security worker who allegedly planted a fake bomb at Dunedin Airport exhibited "odd behaviour" during his shift, a jury has heard.

Preetam Prakash Maid (32) has denied a charge, laid under the Aviation Crimes Act, of taking an imitation explosive device into a security-enhanced area.

The aviation security officer was undertaking a solo perimeter patrol on the airport’s northern sector on March 17 last year — two days after the Christchurch mosque terrorism attacks — when he reported seeing a suspicious item beside a hut which housed important technology for landing planes.

Under closer inspection it appeared to be a black bag with a note attached.

The Crown case is that Maid planted them there during his patrol, specifically to draw attention to problems he perceived over lax security at the airport.

Emergency services neutralised the item and found among its contents a butane canister, cellphone parts, wire and tape.

Preetam Maid
Preetam Maid
Crown prosecution told the Dunedin District Court at the trial’s outset on Monday that the components of the hoax bomb had likely come from a dangerous-goods storeroom, accessible only by security staff.

Since Monday afternoon, Maid’s supervisor Jenny-Lee Burt has been in the witness box orientating jurors with the layout of Dunedin Airport.

Yesterday, CCTV footage of the defendant’s movements on the day were played in court.

Ms Burt provided a running commentary of Maid’s duties and explained why he entered various areas.

However, the man was shown leaving foot patrol nearly 15 minutes early and returning to a screening area, which he then left and re-entered several times, finally departing while carrying a black and white backpack.

Ms Burt called it "odd behaviour".

While not captured on CCTV, swipe-card records showed Maid then entered a corridor leading to the dangerous-goods room, a place confiscated or restricted items were held.

Eleven minutes later he swiped out and continued his duties.

"Is there any reason he would need to go in there?" Crown prosecutor Robin Bates asked.

"Absolutely not," Ms Burt said.

Staff, she told the court, had also been warned to avoid the area because construction work was ongoing.

While there was no prescribed route for foot patrol, Ms Burt said that corridor was not one which should have been entered.

Maid swiped back into the area for a time later that afternoon.

"For an officer to go in a second time for 10 minutes, I see no reason," Ms Burt said.

At 3.45pm, Maid could be seen leaving the Aviation Security offices with a different black bag, which he later took out to the car park, outside his rostered tasks.

"To me it raises alarm bells," Ms Burt told the court.

"This is clearly a breach of our protocols."

It is then, the Crown alleged, that the man stashed the imitation explosive device in the patrol car.

A note found with the fake bomb was significant, Mr Bates said, and could have been written on paper from the dangerous-goods room.

It 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 would give evidence of links to Maid, the prosecutor said.

Defence counsel Deborah Henderson said her client vehemently denied being behind the bomb hoax.

The trial, before Judge Michael Crosbie and a jury of eight women and four men, will last at least two weeks.