Prison authorities in Orlando, Florida, have placed Trinidadian Nishal Sankat on a suicide watch.
But Sankat’s attorney is urging the prison authorities to move his client from prison to another facility under a private physician’s care amid fears over his mental state.
Sankat, 22, who is the son of former UWI St Augustine principal, Clement Sankat, is reportedly under suicide watch at the Brevard County Jail, according to his attorney Greg Eisenmenger. The lawyer has told US authorities that conditions at the prison are taking a further toll on Sankat’s mental health.
Sankat is accused of attempting to steal an American Airlines Airbus from a maintenance hangar at the Orlando Melbourne International Airport on September 20.
It is alleged that Sankat jumped a fence at the airport and twice had to be subdued by workers after allegedly attempting to enter the cockpit of a plane.
On Monday, Sankat’s family hired Brevard County attorney Eisenmenger, who has several high profile matters, for the case. Eisenmenger has indicated that the matter has a “mental health component. It is believed the 22-year-old was homesick and depressed.”
“I think we all recognise this went beyond a college student being homesick and trying to go home,” Eisenmenger said to US media.
However, Eisenmenger said Sankat’s motive remains unclear. But the attorney for the student pilot, according to reports out of Florida, claimed his client never intended to steal the American Airlines airbus.
Eisenmenger was told by the family and some friends that they never expected this from Sankat.
Sankat appeared in court last Friday when FBI agents David Joseph Hacker and Christopher Castielo gave testimonies. Hacker said Sankat allegedly intended to harm himself during his attempt to enter the plane and had no regard if he harmed others.
Sankat wore a gown geared to prevent him from self-harm during the hearing.
Sankat was granted a bond on the first two charges but not on the charge of grand theft.
During that hearing, which was officiated by Trinidad born Judge Rhonda E Babb, the prosecution objected to a US$22,500 bond on the basis that Sankat is a dual citizen of Trinidad and Tobago and Canada and also on the basis that he was deemed a threat to the community.