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Australia: NSW man avoids conviction for shining laser pointer in public place

A man who owned a laser pointer for two days, was arrested after aiming it on an administration building in the Wollongong (New South Wales) train station.

On May 21 2016 Anthony Vella, 20, was trying out a laser pointer purchased as a gift for him by his brother, to see how far the light was visible. Two transport command police officers saw the laser being used, and charged Vella with using a laser pointer in a public place. They also confiscated the pointer. In testing, they noted that the laser dot was “clearly visible” on a wall 500 meters away.

On July 26 2016 Vella pleaded guilty. His lawyer said Vella was not aware that use of a laser pointer in a public place was illegal.

The judge ruled that Vella broke the law but did not record a criminal conviction due to Vella’s prior good character and lack of malicious intent.

From the Illawarra Mercury

Australia: Teen injures both eyes by looking into laser pointer

A 14-year-old Australian permanently damaged his retinas by deliberately shining a laser pointer into his eyes “for a very brief period of time”, according to the optometrist who examined the teen.

From a November 5 news account, it appears the injury occurred on Friday October 30 2015. The boy saw a general practitioner the following Monday, who then referred the teen to Ben Armitage, a Hobart (Tasmania) optometrist.

Armitage said the boy did not feel pain during the exposure, but he immediately lost visual acuity. “His vision is down to about 25 percent of what we call 20/20 vision and unfortunately at this stage it’s unlikely that vision is ever going to recover.”

Retina laser damage 2015-11-5 Australia
Retina of one of the teen’s two eyes that were damaged by a self-inflicted laser pointer exposure. The injury occurred near the macula. At the center of the macula is the fovea, responsible for sharp central vision.


The damaged area is still swollen; Armitage hopes that some vision may be restored when the swelling recedes.

An Optometry Tasmania spokesperson warned parents not to allow children unsupervised access to laser pointers “and, in fact, better off trying to warn them off because we’ve just seen in this particular case where the future lifestyle of this young person has been seriously affected.”

From ABC (Australia) News

Australia: Lasers on rugby player in Argentina leads league to investigate

The SANZAR rugby organization said they will try to crack down on incidents of lasers being pointed at players.

The October 6 2014 statement came after Wallabies player Mike Harris had multiple red and green lasers aimed at him during a match in Argentina. He made seven of eight goals, missing one after he complained to the referee about laser harassment.

Wallabies laser Argentina
Screen capture shows a laser beam on Harris’ head during the match


Lasers were also aimed at Wallabies players during other games between the Australian and Argentine teams.

Harris seemed resigned to the situation, saying "I guess it is something a bit different and part and parcel of playing in Argentina. There's not much you can do so you've just got to move on.”

The Wallabies’ coach, Robbie Deans, also seemed to dismiss the laser louts: “Obviously, it [the use of lasers] was not ideal but it was not a major element and was resolved very quickly.”

SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters said the organization would investigate.

An unscientific poll of readers at the Green and Gold Rugby website, for Wallabies supporters asked about consequences of pointing lasers at players. The results after being up for about a day:

poll green and gold rugby laser


From the Courier-Mail and greenandgoldrugby.com. SANZAR stands for ‘South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby”

Australia: MP apologizes for shining laser pointer on colleague

A Member of Parliament apologized to his colleague after shining a red laser pointer on his forehead while they were sitting in a Western Australia Legislative Council meeting in Perth, on May 8 2014.

The president of the Council stopped the proceedings when he noticed the red dot on Liberal MP Bernie Finn, and said “It is extraordinary and a matter of concern to have that sort of device aimed at a member and it wasn’t just once, it was on his forehead a couple of times. You’re actually very lucky in this circumstance that I don’t send you out of the house because I regard it as that serious.”

Labor MP Adem Somyurek apologized to Finn, saying he had collected the pen from an exhibition inside Parliament and had been playing with it in the Council. “I shouldn’t have done that, I consider Mr Finn a friend,” said Somyurek.

From Perth Now

Australia & Argentina: Rugby player tries to tune out laser distractions

A Canberra Times article discusses how Quantas Wallabies goalkicker Christian Lealiifano tries to tune out lasers aimed at or near him by opposing fans during rugby union matches.

The October 2 2013 article references an incident the previous week, where a New Zealand All Blacks player was given a second chance at a kick after being distracted by a laser pointer aimed by Argentine fans. According to the story, “the controversial practice [is] now associated almost exclusively with Argentine crowds.”

Lealiifano said “I don't really worry about it too much. I guess you have to try and block it out visually. I have a certain target on the ball that I look at and concentrate on the most, because that's my target area and striking zone. If the laser is around that area it might distract me, but if I stay focused on that, hopefully nothing else goes wrong.”

From the Canberra Times

Australia: AUS $400 fine for possessing laser pointer in public

A 24-year-old Orange, NSW man was fined AUS $400 on May 16 2013, for possessing a laser pointer in a public place.

On March 9 2013, Patrick Toohey was in a vehicle that was stopped for a random breath test. Police said they smelled cannabis and that Toohey and his four friends had bloodshot eyes, and thus searched the vehicle. The laser pointer was found in a bag. Toohey’s lawyer later said in court that Toohey had put the pointer in the bag “some time ago and had completely forgotten about it.” No cannabis was found, and the driver passed the breath test.

Toohey pleaded guilty to the laser pointer possession charge. During the sentencing phase on May 16, Toohey’s lawyer said his client was employed full-time and had been in a steady relationship for two years. He asked for leniency due to Toohey pleading guilty early in the case.

From the Central Western Daily

Australia: Lasers aimed at drivers; perpetrators warned

Green laser beams, thought to be from one or more youths, were aimed at truck drivers and at police following up on telephoned reports, in Boambee East, New South Wales on May 4 2013. The incidents occurred around 10:30 pm. Police warned that perpetrators could face a fine of up to AUS $5000 if they have lasers above 1 milliwatt in public without a valid reason.

From the Coffs Coast Advocate

Australia: Qld teens aim laser at car, then fire shots

Three male teenagers were arrested for shining a laser into a driver’s eyes, then firing gunshots into the car. News reports did not say whether the laser was a sight on the weapon, or whether it was a separate device.

The incident occurred December 13 2011 in Beenleigh, about 35 km south of Brisbane, Queensland. The targeted driver was not injured but the rear window of the car was shattered.

An 18-year-old faces fifteen charges, a 16-year-old faces five charges, and a 15-year-old faces sixteen charges. A press account from Nine News listing some of the charges did not list any that were laser-specific.

From Nine News

Australia: Driver has eye injury for days after laser attack

A driver in a Perth suburb suffered damage to his left eye, after a green laser beam was aimed through his windshield on August 28 2011. Anthony Zuvela said “I couldn’t see out of my left eye and my eye was burning…it was a very frightening experience.” He went for tests which showed that no permanent damage was done, although he was to stay away from bright light: “All Sunday and half of Monday, I wasn’t allowed to drive or go outside. I had to stay indoors in darkness and had a patch on my left eye.” He said the pressure behind his eye and itchiness lasted for days.

As of September 15, police have not found the perpetrator. There was a crackdown in the state of Western Australia in 2009. It is illegal to “cause fear or alarm in a driver by directing a laser pointer at a vehicle.” The penalty can be up to seven years in jail and an AUS $36,000 fine.

From InMyCommunity.com

Australia: Laser aimed near Sydney police car

A 16-year-old boy was arrested by police officers in a Sydney suburb after a laser beam was aimed onto the road near their vehicle. When apprehended, the teen was holding a laser pointer, and another pointer was in his pocket. Later at the Maroubra Police Station, he told investigators that he had a third pointer at his home.

He was released without charge pending further inquiries.

From a NSW Police Force press release

Australia: Cars targeted in Melbourne

An unknown person targeted “a number of drivers” who said they were blinded by a laser pointer in the southeast section of Melbourne on May 3 2011. A constable said “We are very fortunate that there wasn't a collision as a result of this foolish behaviour.” There was no information about whether the laser user was stationary or was also driving.

From the Sydney Morning Herald

Australia: Bus driver has eye injury from passing motorist

A passing motorist aimed a laser at a Sydney bus driver, temporarily blinding his right eye. He “was forced to brake heavily to avoid colliding with a concrete barrier.”

News reports said the driver was “in visible pain.” A photo showed the driver on his stopped bus, holding his eye. He told paramedics he had “disturbed vision”. He was taken to Sydney Hospital and was released the next day, Saturday March 12 2011.

Police are looking for the perpetrator.

From the
Sunday Telegraph

Australia: Man charged with selling, possessing laser pointers

A 29-year-old resident of Broken Hill, New South Wales, was arrested April 7 2011 after police found three laser pointers in a desk drawer in his home. He was charged with three counts of possession of a prohibited weapon, one count of advertising a prohibited weapon without stating that a permit was required, and one count of selling a prohibited weapon to an unauthorized buyer.

Police said that last December the man advertised a laser pointer for sale online, and sold it to a Sydney buyer in January. Inquiries then led to the April 7 arrest.

From the
Cowra Community News

Australia: NSW man arrested for possession after traffic incident

A New South Wales man was charged with “possessing a laser pointer in a public place.” The incident started when police were called by motorists in Kempsey reporting laser lights. The area was searched; a 19-year-old man was found with a laser pointer, and was arrested. A court date of March 7 2011 was set.

From a
New South Wales police force press release

Australia: Readers comment on laser lout incident

Readers of the Melbourne Herald Sun commented on the “laser lout” incident at a football match. Some selected comments:

“This sort of madness just should not be tolerated - it is at best a risk or blinding an individual, yes, just even a Joe Citizen: at worst it could bring down a plane. Typical of all our soft governments - and our soft judiciaries.”

“A laser in the eyes can permanently blind, these brain dead individuals are not just louts or plain footy fans they are criminals and should be treated as such.... Why the hell does anyone need to carry around a laser light ? They are of no legitimate use to an idiot, except to cause nuisance, they should be classed a concealed weapon and treated accordingly.”

“The practice of directing laser beams at aircraft is incredibly dangerous as is the potential of using these beams in any other situation. There were reports of the same thing happening to footballers at the weekend. The penalties suggested going to the Senate today are insufficient to say the least and should not only cover aircraft but any use of these lasers intended to injure other people.”

Additional comments are at the Melbourne Herald Sun article.

Australia: Lasers banned at football game; jail possible

Football [soccer] fans caught shining laser lights into players' faces during matches will be booted out of grounds.

The league has vowed to work with police and venues to crack down on the problem following at least two incidents in Friday night's Richmond-Collingwood clash.

"The AFL will work with police and our venues to ban anyone caught using laser lights to distract players during the course of a match," said league operations manager Adrian Anderson.

"It's unacceptable for players in a contact sport having something shine in their eyes while playing the game.

A sharp jump in the number of lasers aimed into aircraft cockpits has sparked new laws to allow offenders to be jailed.
The draft laws will be put before the Senate today. The legislation comes as Transport Minister Mark Vaile reported there had been 170 laser incidents in 2007 and the dangerous practice was happening more often.
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