An ex-con was busted in Belgium for hijacking a helicopter to break his wife out of jail — after he used his own name to book the flight, reports said on Monday.
Mike Gielen and two other men chartered the chopper in Antwerp on Friday, on the pretext of taking aerial shots for a TV program, The Telegraph reported.
But Gielen, a 24-year-old convicted drug smuggler, actually planned to use the aircraft to spring wife Kristal Appelt from a Brussels prison, where she was being held on suspicion of murdering an ex-boyfriend, the report said.
After taking pictures of local landmarks from the air, Gielen and his accomplices pulled out fake handguns and ordered the pilot, a 35-year-old woman, to fly to the lockup.
The helicopter circled over the prison several times, eliciting cheers from the inmates, according to The Guardian.
However, the excitement proved to be too much for Gielen, who became nauseous and threw up five times out of the aircraft’s window, the report said.
Gielen’s plot was foiled after the pilot was unable to land in the prison courtyard — so he ordered her to fly a nearby town where a getaway car was waiting, the reports said.
He and two other suspects, aged 18 and 22, were nabbed Sunday after detectives traced their names back to the helicopter booking forms.
A fourth man, Gielen’s 50-year-old adoptive father, was also arrested for picking the trio up after their failed jailbreak scheme.
The four men are set to appear before a judge in Antwerp on charges of theft with violence with a weapon, participation in a criminal organization, unlawful deprivation of liberty and attempted escape.
“I can confirm that my client admitted that he wanted to free his wife from prison,” said Tom van Overbeke, Gielen’s lawyer. “It seems the whole thing has been staged quite amateurishly.”
Gielen met and married Appelt, 27, last year while the pair were being held in a mixed-gender prison.
“When both Kristel and I had visitors in January 2019, we bumped into each other in the visitors’ area,” Gielen told the Het Belang van Limburg newspaper at the time.
“We both started taking computer lessons in prison. That was the only way to be together.”
Appelt is in jail on suspicion of fatally stabbing 30-year-old Andy Vandereyt during a street fight on Dec. 2, 2018.
Source: NY Post