Man behind attempted Canjet hijacking to spend 20 years behind bars

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica - The man who barged through security at a Jamaican airport and attempted to hijack a Canjet plane bound for Halifax was sentenced to up to 20 years behind bars on Thursday, according to the country's director of public prosecutions.
In a telephone interview with the Canadian Press, Paula Llewellyn outlined the terms of the complex sentence handed down against 21-year-old Stephen Fray in a Montego Bay courtroom.
Fray was convicted on eight out of 10 charges including shooting with intent, robbery and assault. His sentence totals 83 years, which will be served concurrently and add up to 20 years behind bars.
Llewellyn said the presiding judge rejected the defence of insanity offered by Fray's lawyers, but recommended he receive psychiatric treatment while incarcerated.
The sentence will likely come as a blow to Fray's supporters, who organized a petition claiming he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and lobbied for long-term psychiatric care rather than jail time.
But Brenda Grenier, one of the 167 people on board Canjet Flight 918, said she believes the punishment fits the crime.
"He could have put a lot of people's lives in danger. I know I thought for a moment that we were all goners," she said in a telephone interview from Halifax. ". . . I think it's fair, what he got."
The ordeal for Grenier and her fellow passengers began on April 19 as they waited to depart from the Sangster International Airport.
Fray, who was carrying his father's .38-calibre revolver, managed to dodge airport security and board the aircraft where he began brandishing his weapon and demanding to be flown off the island.
He fired a shot into the air during the ensuing six-hour standoff, during which he also held one crew member at gunpoint and doused another with a fire extinguisher. .
Negotiations with the Canjet crew resulted in Fray allowing the 159 passengers and two crew members to leave the aircraft, but only after giving him money and abandoning their valuables on board.
Grenier and her then 15-year-old daughter came face-to-face with Fray, who spoke to the teenager and ordered her to come to him.
"My heart just sunk, I didn't know what to do," Grenier said, adding that a flight attendant eventually diverted Fray's attention away from her daughter.
The standoff eventually came to an end when a covert operation led by a Canadian-trained Jamaican counterterrorism squad managed to capture Fray. The Commandos used the cockpit window to quietly spirit away the co-pilot and replace him with two of their own.
Llewellyn described Fray's case as complex, adding the mental health issues raised during the trial were "novel."
She expressed satisfaction with the trial's outcome and praised the 22 witnesses, including three Canadian Canjet crew members, who came forward to testify.
"We are indeed very appreciative in respect of the courage of the witnesses, both local and also the Canadians," she said.
Llewellyn said Fray's lawyer plans to appeal the sentence. George Thomas could not immediately be reached for comment.

Organizations: Canjet, Canadian Press, Sangster International Airport

Geographic location: MONTEGO BAY, Halifax, Jamaica

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