Plane passenger admits to having box cutter in carry-on bag

A Canadian woman admitted packing a box cutter inside a book she placed in her carry-on bag at Key West International Airport in January and was sentenced to time served with the condition she return home.

“Guilty,” said Alison Anne Pickford, wearing blue jail-issued clothes and seated beside her public defender Stewart Abrams Monday at the federal courthouse in Key West.

Pickford, 27, admitted to a misdemeanor for having a box cutter in her blue duffel bag Jan. 11 while on her way to board flight No. 4430 from Key West to Charlotte, N.C. She hasn’t left jail since her arrest.

She inadvertently put the cutter in her carry-on bag and had meant to pack it in her checked luggage, Abrams told U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana Snow.

“This is not a case of her trying to sneak something on the plane,” Abrams said. “This is a situation where just the act itself is the offense.”

The box cutter, or utility knife as it was called in court documents, was secreted inside a hollowed-out book.

The maximum penalty for entering an aircraft or airport area in violation of security requirements is one year in prison.

Pickford, who has no prior criminal record, her attorney said, made no statement in court. Her sentence includes a $25 fine plus the requirement she obtain written permission from Homeland Security before ever entering the U.S. again.

“It’s her intention to return to Canada as quickly as she can go,” Abrams said, adding she has a van in Key West. “She wants to get into her van and go home.”