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Father says son charged for alleged threat on Sunwing flight is mentally ill

The father of a man accused of making threats on a Sunwing flight says his son suffers from depression and has gambling problems.

Ali Shahi, 25, faces four charges – two counts of mischief, uttering threats and endangering the safety of an aircraft.

“We love him, he’s our son,” said Shahi’s father, Sadegh. “He doesn’t mean anything. He’s scared even of a mosquito. He’s a very nice guy.”

Shahi appeared in a Brampton court on Saturday and was released on $1,000 bail. His bail conditions include not being allowed to board any planes or be present at Pearson International Airport.

His next scheduled court appearance is at 9 a.m. on Aug 25.

After the bail hearing, Shahi was escorted to the hospital.

“They’re going to take him to the hospital to see if the doctor can assess, and see what they’re going to do for him,” his father told the media. “That’s what I what. He’s been suffering for 10 years now.”

Sadegh said he’s frustrated and has been trying to get his son the help he needs.

“We’ve called the police for him more than 23 times. I’m hoping they do something for us. Unfortunately they didn’t,” he explained. “I need him to be treated, to be in rehab or something for him.”

Sunwing Flight 772 was heading from Toronto to Panama City when it turned around about 45 minutes into the flight on Friday morning after a passenger allegedly made a “direct threat” to the aircraft.

Two fighter jets from NORAD were dispatched to escort the flight, carrying 183 passengers and a crew of six, back to Toronto’s Pearson airport.

Cellphone video footage from passengers on board that was broadcast on several television networks showed heavily armed tactical team officers storming aboard the plane to arrest the passenger.

After several hours’ delay the Sunwing flight took off again for Panama.