WATCH: Man allegedly uttered threats on a Sunwing flight appeared in court Saturday, July 26. His family was also there and they blame the incident on his state of mind. Cindy Pom reports.
TORONTO – A 25-year-old man charged for allegedly making “direct threats” aboard a Sunwing flight from Toronto to Panama City was released on bail Saturday morning.
Ali Shahi appeared in a Brampton, Ont., court and was released on $1,000 bail.
Shahi was charged with mischief to property, mischief interfering of the lawful enjoyment of property, uttering threats and endangering the safety of an aircraft. He has also been ordered not to board a plane or enter Pearson International Airport as part of the conditions for his release.
His father, Sadegh Shahi, spoke to reporters outside the courthouse and said his son will be sent to a hospital for psychological assessment at the family’s request.
WATCH: Extended interview with father of man charged with uttering threats on flight
“That’s what I want,” Sadegh Shahi said. “He’s been suffering for 10 years now … I hope they are going to do something for him.”
Sadegh says his son suffers from mental illnesses that failed to be addressed by police and doctors.
“We love him. He’s our son, but he’s been suffering from all kinds of depression and gambling problems,” he told reporters. “We’ve called the police more than 23 times hoping they would do something for us, unfortunately they didn’t.”
During a Sunwing flight heading from Toronto to Panama City Friday, Shahi became agitated over the price of cigarettes. He allegedly made a “direct threat” to the aircraft and its passengers, prompting officials to turn the plane back to Toronto’s Pearson airport.
Two fighter jets from NORAD were dispatched to escort the flight, carrying 183 passengers and a crew of six, back to Pearson.
WATCH: Tactical team storms Sunwing plane at Pearson International Airport.
Dramatic cellphone video footage from passengers on board showed heavily armed SWAT team officers storming aboard the plane to arrest Shahi.
Shahi was also travelling with his girlfriend at the time.
For years, Sadegh says, he and his wife have called police, doctors and psychologists looking for help but no one has been able to help their son.
“He has deep depression. He’s in his room with the door locked. And this is the problem. We barely see him,” Sadegh said. “He has no friends, not even with his relatives; he doesn’t want to see anybody.”
Sadegh said in the past he admitted his son to Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga to get treatment, only to have him discharged without making much progress.
“They let him go after 10 days because he didn’t obey the rules,” Sadegh said. “Of course he didn’t obey the rules: He’s sick. He has a real mental problem.”
Calls to Credit Valley Hospital were not immediately returned Saturday.
Ali Shahi is scheduled to be back in court on Aug. 25.
*With files from Global’s Crystal Goomansingh
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