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Qantas wants student to pay for protest

AAP logoAAP 2/09/2016 Jacqueline Le

Qantas wants a Melbourne university student found guilty of an in-flight protest against an asylum seeker's deportation to pay the airline more than $3000 for losses linked to flight delays.

Jasmine Pilbrow, 22, was found guilty of interference with a crew member of an aircraft at the Broadmeadows Magistrates Court on Friday.

Qantas security manager Michael Van Der Velde told the court the student's actions in 2015 had cost the airline $3429 linked to flight delays and the jet fuel it had to use in the air to make up for lost time.

Pilbrow, who represented herself on Friday, does not dispute she refused to sit down during a Melbourne to Darwin flight unless a Tamil man, who was being deported to Sri Lanka, was allowed to leave the Qantas plane, on February 2, 2015.

After telling cabin crew she would not sit down, Australian Federal Police agents boarded the flight and the 25-year-old Tamil detainee was removed.

Pilbrow then left the plane.

She was not charged over the incident until February this year.

The asylum seeker whose deportation she tried to stop was taken back to a Melbourne detention centre and eventually deported to Sri Lanka.

While contesting the charge on Friday, Pilbrow said her actions that day were in the context of what she believed was a "sudden or extraordinary emergency".

"My actions were reasonable because the safety of another person's life was at stake," said the student.

In her defence, Pilbrow referred to a provision of the Criminal Code which states a person is not criminally responsible for an offence if it was carried out "in response to circumstances of sudden or extraordinary emergency."

But Magistrate Meaghan Keogh did not accept the defence, and found Pilbrow guilty.

Ms Keogh said "just because a person has strong personal beliefs", it does not mean they are not criminally liable for offences.

The magistrate said Pilbrow should pay Qantas $3429 for the losses it incurred, and another $371.52 in court costs.

A legal technicality prevented Ms Keogh from making that order on Friday, and Pilbrow has instead been asked to make voluntary repayments to Qantas until she is sentenced in November.

"Qantas should not be out of pocket for the disruption caused," said Ms Keogh.

Outside of court, Pilbrow said she was not surprised by the guilty finding and said the court case did not address Australia's treatment of asylum seekers.

"I think the fact that I was found guilty is, in the broader sense, unfair considering Australia has been found in violation of international obligations and laws," said the 22-year-old.

"They're not able to be held accountable for that, and I'm held accountable for trying to prevent that."

The full-time student is unsure how she will repay Qantas before she is se

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