FLIGHT RISK: A mate's offer of a $100 air ticket landed basketballer Atem Deng in court.
FLIGHT RISK: A mate's offer of a $100 air ticket landed basketballer Atem Deng in court. Ross Irby

Basketballer caught with dodgy ticket flying to Melbourne

A VIRGIN aircraft passenger was grabbed by Federal police when it was discovered his ticket was issued under a different name.

An Ipswich court heard the cheap ticket was sold to the defendant by a mate.

Commonwealth DPP prosecutor Hollie Wiffen told Ipswich Magistrates Court the ticket had been bought on-line by someone using a stolen credit card.

It was made clear in court proceedings before Magistrate Kurt Fowler that the aspiring Ipswich and now Melbourne basketball player was not involved in the original purchase.

The ticket had been sold cheaply to Deng for $100 by a person who was not named in court.

Atem Akau Deng, 23, from Ripley, was charged under the Commonwealth Criminal Code. He pleaded guilty to a Commonwealth charge of flying on an airline with false identification information at constitutional airports on December 29, last year.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of a $12,600 fine, or a year's jail.

Ms Wiffen said Deng boarded a Brisbane to Melbourne flight at 1.45pm.

When the Virgin flight landed in Melbourne, Federal police boarded and escorted Deng from the aircraft.

"It is critical that airlines know the identity of all passengers. In case of emergency or in the advent of an airline disaster," Ms Wiffen said.

"It was a deliberate attempt to conceal his identity. It was purchased by the use of a stolen credit card. He boarded the aircraft under a false name.

"It is not simply a case of someone using a family member's ticket or a friend's if they were unable to travel."

The Commonwealth prosecutor opposed a submission by defence lawyer Michael Kelly that no conviction be recorded.

Magistrate Fowler noted there was no allegation Deng knew the ticket was bought using a stolen credit card.

Mr Kelly said Deng was Egyptian born and migrated to Australia in 2001 with his parents.

He said Deng bought the ticket from a friend for $100 to visit family in Melbourne.

He had university qualifications and received a scholarship to an American college in New Mexico to play basketball.

Had has since played for the Brisbane Bullets and has been working as an unpaid player in the development squad with Melbourne Tigers.

Deng was fined $500, with a conviction recorded.



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