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Man who flew from Heathrow to New York ‘without a passport’ detained at London coffee shop after 'urgent' search

12 February 2024, 12:37 | Updated: 12 February 2024, 13:15

Craig Sturt is accused of flying to JFK from Heathrow without documentation
Craig Sturt is accused of flying to JFK from Heathrow without documentation. Picture: Alamy/Police

By Asher McShane

A British man accused of flying from Heathrow to New York without a passport or ticket by tailgating another passenger has been detained after he became the subject of an urgent missing persons appeal.

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Craig Sturt, 46, allegedly followed another passenger through Heathrow Airport security and passport checks before getting free food and drinks on a British Airways flight to New York.

He was understood to have been initially detained by armed officials at JFK airport, who discovered he had no documentation, and then sent him back to the UK on a charter flight.

Sturt was handed to the Metropolitan Police at 8pm on Christmas Day, where he was arrested and charged with fraud and offences under the Aviation Security Act.

Police are searching for Craig Sturt
Police are searching for Craig Sturt. Picture: Police

He was remanded to appear at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court - but became the subject of an "urgent missing person appeal" after allegedly escaping hospital.

Thames Valley Police issued a photo of him on January 30, saying: "Urgent missing person appeal. Please can you help us find Craig? The 46-year-old is 6ft, slim, with short dark brown hair.

"When he was last seen, he was wearing a grey jacket, a top, black jogging bottoms and white trainers.

"Craig was last seen in Reading, but is from Slough and also has links to Heathrow and the Tottenham Court Road in London. If you see Craig, please do not approach him, instead call 999."

However he has now been detained after being spotted at a coffee shop in Richmond, south west London, LBC understands.

He was detained in Richmond, south-west London, at around 8am on suspicion of failing to appear at court.

He failed to appear for a hearing at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court on January 22.

Following his arrest today he remains in custody at a London police station.

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The man flew from Heathrow to JFK airport
The man flew from Heathrow to JFK airport. Picture: Alamy

Scotland Yard said in a statement today: "Craig Sturt, 46, was arrested at around 20:00hrs on 25 December 2023 having arrived in London on a flight from New York.

"He was charged with obtaining services by deception; being unlawfully airside and boarding an aircraft without permission and remanded to appear at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court.

"He failed to appear for a subsequent hearing on 22 January at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court.

"At around 08:00hrs on Monday, 12 February, Craig Sturt was arrested in Richmond for failing to appear at court. He has been taken into custody at a London police station."

The incident has left home secretary James Cleverly demanding answers over the "humiliating fiasco", according to The Sun.

"Heads will roll. It's staggering this could happen. It doesn't bear thinking about what might have happened if a terrorist had successfully boarded a flight undetected," they said.

"This is a major embarrassment. Officials in the US are furious and demanding to know how this could have happened."

A Heathrow spokeswoman said: "All people who go airside are subject to security screening, including the individual involved in this case.

"We are supporting the authorities with their ongoing investigation."

The Met said: "On December 24, 2023, police were made aware of an alleged breach of security at Heathrow airport and a male was subsequently arrested and later charged with Fraud and Aviation Security Act offences.

"We continue to work with all our partners to review and enhance the already robust security measures in place which are kept under constant review by the wider security partnership."

LBC has approached the Met police for a further statement.

British Airways said: "We are assisting the authorities with their investigation."

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