Plea deal for suspect in Melbourne airport incident

A man charged with trying to steal an airplane is taking a plea deal. Now he has to leave the country.

Orlando Melbourne Airport was on lockdown almost two weeks ago after Nishal Sankat boarded an American Airlines plane in an attempt to take off. Now he is taking off permanently. He’s going back to his home country of Trinidad after pleading guilty to burglary. It’s part of a deal made after the FBI and police determined Sankat acted alone and suffered from depression and mental health issues.

“Certainly he was in a very delicate state of mind mentally. He was under a lot of stress,” said his attorney Greg Eisenmenger.

His attorney calls the incident a cry for help. 

“He had decided to do something dramatic in order to illustrate to his family and friends that he needed help.” 

In exchanged for pleading guilty, the charges of theft and trespassing were dropped, and Sankat will serve no more time in jail. When asked if this was enough of a punishment, his attorney told us “I think that the plea agreement was an appropriate plea agreement considering the circumstances.”

There are some consequences. Sankat is losing his pilot’s license and visa. He’ll be deported back to Trinidad Wednesday. His name will be added to the U.S. No Fly list. Now that he’s a convicted felon, he’ll never be allowed back in the U.S. 

His attorney says for Sankat, it’s worth it to return home and get the help he needs. 

“As you can imagine, his parents were quite surprised and shocked by the whole proceeding. His whole family's been very supportive of him,” said Eisenmenger.