July 26, 2016 - 1:00 PM
KELOWNA – A judge may have to recuse himself, a lawyer asked to be replaced and a bench warrant was issued for a man accused of disrupting a WestJet flight in 2014.
Michael Howells, 36, pleaded guilty to charges of mischief, public mischief, endangering an aircraft with false information, uttering threats to burn, destroy or damage and possession of controlled substance.
He was arrested in late October when a flight had to be diverted from Kelowna International Airport and a 35-year-old Alberta man was arrested. Close to 100 passengers spent hours waiting as RCMP searched the plane for an item of concern police refused to disclose.
Passengers told Global Okanagan the pilot told them someone may have spoken of a bomb.
“The threat itself, I can’t divulge the nature of the threat, was specific to a departing flight,” RCMP Const. Kris Clark told reporters gathered at the airport. “Once it landed, it was held away from the terminal.”
Howells, who was living in Summerland at the time, was to be sentenced Tuesday morning but failed to show.
His lawyer Gavin Jones asked to be replaced as counsel and Judge Gregory Koturbash issued a bench warrant for Howells arrest.
Koturbash also requested a new judge be assigned to the case after he discovered he has a family connection to the accused.
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