A Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) guard who seized a pipe bomb from a man at Edmonton International Airport tried to give it back to him, CBC News has learned.
Skylar Vincent Murphy, 18, of Spruce Grove, Alta., was allowed to get on a flight at Edmonton International Airport on Sept. 20 after he was caught with a pipe bomb by security.
According to details that came out in court, the CATSA guard was caught on video pushing the device back to Murphy. Reportedly, Murphy was told “You can keep it.”
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Murphy insisted the guard take it. He was then allowed to clear security and board a plane to Mexico where he was travelling with his family on a weeklong vacation.
The device was in a camera bag, which Murphy says he placed there in February 2013 when he and and a friend made two pipe bombs.
They blew up one in a field. Murphy said he left the other one in his bag and forgot about it.
The device was about 15 centimetres long and five centimetres in diameter with screws at both sides. A three-metre-long fuse ran through the device, which was filled with gunpowder.
RCMP weren’t notified until four days later.
The day Murphy returned from Mexico, he was arrested by a large number of uniformed officers, a SWAT team and bomb-sniffing dogs.
Murphy was eventually convicted and fined $100 for possessing an explosive device.
Murphy, in a text reply to CBC News, said, "I've been advised not to comment. I will however tell you that what has been published is not at all an accurate portrayal of what happened."
CATSA spokesman Mathieu Larocque said that some of the officers involved in the incident were suspended. He would not specify how many. All officers involved were disciplined and given additional mandatory training, he said
'Unacceptable,' transport minister says
Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt called it "unacceptable" that someone found with a pipe bomb was allowed to continue on with their flight.
“The safety of Canadians and the travelling public is our government’s top priority," Raitt told CBC News in a written statement. "This individual should not have been allowed to board his flight, and it is unacceptable that [CATSA] waited four days before seeking the RCMP's assistance."
Raitt said she wants to make sure the incident isn't repeated.
"I will be calling the president of CATSA today to ensure the organization takes further action to better protect the safety of Canadian travellers.”
In an email to CBC News, Larocque said CATSA understands the minister's concerns and has taken steps to ensure this type of incident doesn't happen again.
"CATSA has completed a full review last fall of the incident. During the course of its review, CATSA concluded that the RCMP should have been contacted earlier in the process as per our procedures," he wrote.
"Corrective actions have been taken and those involved in the incident were disciplined and required to take additional training. We have also updated screening officers’ training material across the country and put more emphasis on our procedures."
Critics have lined up to blast the authority for its handling of the case.
"This is really shocking for the general public," said Michel Juneau-Katsuya, former senior manager and intelligence officer with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and CEO of Northgate, an intelligence company.
With files from the CBC's Janice Johnston