A student who ‘joked’ about blowing up his plane on Snapchat is now on trial over it

The message read: ‘On my way to blow up the plane’ and caused two Spanish fighter jets to be sent out

A student at The University of Bath is currently on trial in Spain after a bomb hoax “joking” about blowing up his easyJet flight.

Whilst waiting for his flight to take off at Gatwick airport in July 2022, Aditya Verma sent a Snapchat message to his friends saying: “On my way to blow up the plane (I’m a member of the Taliban).”

The airport’s wifi picked up the message and alerted UK security services who then flagged it to Spanish authorities while the plane was still in the air. Two Spanish fighter jet planes were then sent to fly alongside it.

When the plane landed in Menorca accompanied by one of the fighter jets, it was extensively searched and economics student Aditya Verma was arrested at the airport. He was kept in a cell for two days before being released on bail for £8,600.

Via TikTok

When he arrived back in the UK he was questioned by MI5 and MI6. Police told the court that after searching Aditya Verma’s phone they did not find anything that linked him to jihadist radicalism.

The Bath student is not facing terrorism charges or a possible jail term but could be fined up to €22,500 (£19,300) as well as £81,000 towards the cost of the fighter jets if found guilty of public disorder. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He told a court in Madrid on Monday: “The intention was never to cause public distress or cause public harm.”

He said the message was “a joke in a private group setting” and “it was just sent to my friends I was travelling with on the day.

“It was not a pre-planned message. I just wanted to go to Spain with my friends to enjoy the nice weather and experience Spanish football and nightlife.”

The student admitted to sending a Snapchat from the check-in desk at Gatwick to the group of his six friends at 9:47 am. “I just wish I hadn’t sent it,” he said.

Student bomb hoax

Aditya Verma on trial via BORJA SANCHEZ-TRILLO/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

When asked why he sent the message, he said: “I was called a Taliban at school because of my features and I used to joke about it and I know the Taliban is considered to be a terrorist group. But I didn’t think it was going to cause people on the flight to be afraid because it was sent to a private friends’ group.”

The court heard that when he saw the fighter jets flying alongside the plane he thought it was a “military exercise” related to the Russia-Ukraine war.

The plane’s pilot made an announcement, telling passengers that the fighter jets had been scrambled because of a distress signal that had been sent by mistake.

Aditya Verma is originally from Kent and attended St Olave’s Grammar School. Now studying economics at the University of Bath, he is also a former chess child prodigy, representing England at several international chess tournaments.

The court told the BBC that a verdict in the case would come in the next few days.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Student terrorised flatmate by chasing her with a knife and pouring vodka in her eyes

Russell Group student stalked lecturer and booked registry office for their imaginary wedding

23-year-old heir to £230 million pie company fortune accused of stabbing best friend to death

Featured image via TikTok, Google Maps and BORJA SANCHEZ-TRILLO/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock.