Laser Pen Users Could Face Jail

A Northern Irish judge has warned anyone using laser pens to cause disruption to flight services could face a jail sentence.

Judge Kinney was handing down a six-month suspended jail term to Michael Jackson, 26, from Island Street, east Belfast.

The accused had pleaded guilty to shining a green laser at a pilot in a police helicopter on 17 August 2010.

Mr Jackson’s term was only suspended in this case because he is a full-time carer for his mother-in-law.

He was arrested after the pilot directed officers on the ground towards the light source. Officers then searched Jackson, found the laser pen and arrested him.

"It is clear those who target aircraft in this dangerous and reckless way should expect to go to prison," said Judge Kinney.

Jackson pleaded guilty to endangering the safety of an aircraft.

Prosector Ian Tannahill said pilots were not allowed to fly following an incident with a laser pen until they had undergone an eye test.

He told the court this was an indication of how seriously these matters are taken the Civil Aviation Authority.

Defence lawyer Jonathan Brown told the court he too had been the victim of a recent incident with a laser pen which left him disorientated, but pointed out that even though the incident lasted 17 minutes, the defendant had only shone the laser at the helicopter for a total of 37 seconds in flashes of one or two seconds at a time.

Jackson was also ordered to pay the pilot £30 compensation, the price of the eye test the pilot had to undergo.


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