Teen caused chaos by tapping into Edinburgh Airport radio frequencies as ‘prank’

Corrigan interefered with the air traffic control frequency at Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Corrigan interefered with the air traffic control frequency at Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Ian Georgeson

A young man wreaked havoc on the operation of planes, trains, a hospital and a shopping centre in Edinburgh, by blocking their radio frequencies, in what was described as “a juvenile prank”.

Jamie Corrigan, now 24, was 17 years old when he began tapping into the radio frequencies, from equipment in his bedroom, of Air Traffic Control at Edinburgh Airport, Network Rail, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh Castle, NSL Services Group, and Westside and Cameron Toll Shopping Centres, between June 1, 2014, and February, 2015.

Corrigan, of Niddrie House Square, pleaded guilty previously at the city’s Sheriff Court to charges of culpable and reckless conduct by making repeated radio transmissions which caused fear and alarm, potential endangerment and making abusive and offensive remarks.

Today, he was has been placed on a six month Restriction of Liberty Order to remain in his home between 10pm and 6am and had his radio equipment forfeited.

Corrigan’s calls on the frequency of Air Traffic Control at Edinburgh Airport interfered with the safe movement of aircraft and emergency vehicles, compromising the overall safety of the airport. Network Rail suffered sounds of an alarm and offensive remarks and, on one occasion, an attempt to redirect moving trains, interfering with the safe movement of rail stock. Edinburgh Castle received a call implying there was an explosive device there.

Calls to the Royal Infirmary interfered with the movement of medical staff and equipment. NSL Services Group received repeated transmissions uttering threats of violence and sexually abusive and offensive remarks and the two shopping centres were plagued with offensive and abusive remarks, with one call to the Westside Centre preventing security guards contacting the emergency services for an injured person.

At an earlier hearing of the case, defence solicitor Andrew Houston told Sheriff Frank Crowe that Corrigan had “perceived it as juvenile pranking” and was “uncomfortable and embarrassed about what he had done and didn’t want to acknowledge the seriousness of his actions”.

Sheriff Crowe described it as outrageous conduct and added: “I am extremely concerned about the whole thing”.

Today, Mr Houston said the Criminal Social Justice Report showed his client had a complex psychological history.

“He does realise these offences harmed people, but finds it extremely difficult to express himself in certain situations”.

His client, he said, had an appointment with a representative of the Prince’s Trust next week to see if anything could be done to use his skills. He pointed out there had been no further concerning behaviour for two years and that The Crown had kept his client’s radio equipment since March 2015. Fiscal Depute, Nicole Lavelle moved that the equipment be forfeited.

Sheriff Crowe said he would like to encourage Corrigan to co-operate with the Trust rather than do mindless unpaid hours of work. “He needs to be doing something intellectual” he said. The Sheriff ordered the forfeiture of all the radio equipment apart from three lap tops and two sets of headphones. He will review the Restriction of Liberty Order in December.