A man who threatened to set himself alight after missing his flight at Cairns airport was staging an "ill-conceived protest", a court has heard.
South Korean national Hanback Chae pleaded guilty in the Cairns District Court on Friday to one count of disrupting services and endangering the safety of anyone at an airport, on Friday, July 10.
The court heard the 28-year-old bought 5.8 litres of petrol from a service station after missing his Jetstar flight home and then poured it over himself near the check-in queue after demanding to speak to the airline's chief executive.
Defence lawyer Michael Dalton read references from Mr Chae's friends who said he was a "gentle soul" who gave words of encouragement and did not like injustice.
Mr Dalton told the court Mr Chae had not wanted to hurt anyone and tried to step away from people for the "ill-conceived protest".
Chae told police he was "angry about the big company, not persons or people".
Commonwealth prosecutor Kate Milbourne said the act was premeditated and fire would have caused significant injuries if the petrol had caught alight.
She said consideration should be given to an atmosphere of fear in the community at the time of the crime.
"It is not being suggested in any way that this was a terrorist attack," she said.
"What is being highlighted though is that these events occurred at a time when terrorist attacks ... had been featuring heavily in the news."
CCTV played in court showed hundreds of people, including children on school holidays, pushing their way through doors and security points in fear.
Chief Judge Kerry O'Brien said there was little doubt Chae's actions had caused a great deal of panic.
But he said he would need longer to consider an appropriate sentence as there were few similar cases on which to base a punishment.
The prosecution submitted only a custodial sentence would be appropriate.
The defence said Judge O'Brien should consider letting Chae, whose temporary visa expires on October 1, return to Korea to "get on with his life".
The matter was adjourned until September 25.
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