A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

US: Two years in prison for Calif. man who aimed "powerful green laser" at helicopter

Barry Lee Bowser, 52
Bakersfield, California, US

On September 28 2015, Bowser was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison plus three years of supervised release and a $10,000 “special assessment fee”, for aiming a “powerful green laser” at a Kern County Sheriff’s Office helicopter.

From an FBI press release: “In June [2015], a federal jury found Bowser guilty of aiming the beam of a laser at Air-1, a Kern County Sheriff’s helicopter that was providing support to ground units responding to a man armed with a gun. At trial, the evidence established that the mission was diverted when the pilot of Air-1 was struck by direct hits from a powerful green laser that illuminated the cockpit and tracked the aircraft near the approach path to Meadows Field Airport. The laser strikes caused the pilot to experience flash blindness, eye discomfort, and pain that lasted several hours. In imposing sentence, U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill found that Bowser had obstructed justice before trial by concealing the laser and providing false statements to law enforcement and at trial through his false testimony about the offense.”

On September 23 2016 Bowser published a public apology, which said that the incident had ruined his life: “I also want to educate anyone who owns a laser and might be inclined to use it the way I did: Learn from my mistake. I am now just getting out of prison. I have paid dearly, for I have lost my girlfriend, my dog, my home, my vehicle. Everything I owned, everything I have worked for 30 years of my life, is gone. For shining a laser at a helicopter for three seconds, I lost my entire life. I am now 54 years old and I have no one and nothing but the clothes I was given when I was released from prison.”

Original LaserPointerSafety.com story here; story with complete apology letter here.

UK: 12-month conditional discharge and fees of £100 for aiming laser pen at police helicopter

Scott Christopher Brown, 26
Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, UK


On March 27 2015, a Humberside police helicopter was illuminated by laser light. On August 3 2015, Brown admitted the offense of shining a light so as to distract or dazzle a pilot.

Brown was sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge, and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £15 and costs of £85 by North Lincolnshire magistrates.

UK: £415 in fines for London-area man who lased police helicopter

Arkadiusz Wozniewski, 32
New Malden, London, UK


Wozniewski was sentenced October 14 2014 for aiming a laser pen at a London Metropolitan Police helicopter. He was fined £300, plus he had to pay a victim surcharge of £30 and court costs of £85 (total £415 or U.S. $666).

On July 19 2014, helicopter “India 99” was trying to locate 10 people walking across rooftops. Wozniewski aimed a laser pen at the aircraft. This caused the search to be called off.

Wozniewski pleaded guilty in Wimbledon Magistrates Court on October 8 2014.

Australia: $10,000 fine and court costs for Mandurah man

Raymond Alexander Moore, 40
Mandurah, Western Australia


Moore was fined AUS $10,000 (USD $9,093) on September 19 2014, for continually aiming a green laser beam at a police helicopter.

On August 25 2014, he was walking his dog and playing with the laser pointer when he decided to aim it at a helicopter overhead. His lawyer said Moore “didn’t think it would hit or reach the aircraft.” The pilot took evasive action and was “distressed” throughout the incident. When arrested, Moore told police his actions were “stupid” and he was an “idiot.”

He could have been jailed for up to three years, and fined up to $36,000. The sentencing judge said Moore was lucky to not be jailed, given that “the risk of damage was huge.”

UK: 12 month community order for Manchester-area man also found with drugs

James Hunt, 27
Farnworth, Bolton, Greater Manchester, UK


Hunt was sentenced September 10 2014. He was given a community order for 12 months, a supervision order, was fined £20, was ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge, and he had his laser pen and cannabis forfeited.

On May 23 2014, he aimed a laser pen from his bedroom window at a police helicopter. The laser strike caused the helicopter to abandon a search for a missing person, in order to determine Hunt’s location. In August, Hunt pleaded guilty to acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft, and to possession of cannabis.

UK: £385 in fines and court costs for Rotherham man

Ben Roe, 23
Rotherham, South Yorkshire, UK


Roe was fined £300, plus ordered to pay £85 in court costs, in late August 2014, after he pleaded guilty to aiming a laser light at a national police helicopter. His laser pen was also seized.

In the July 28 2014 incident, Roe was said to have been attempting to distract the pilot.

UK: 12 months probation, 120 hours community service, £145 in fines for Nottinghamshire area woman

Leanne Martin, 20
Bircotes, Nottinghamshire, UK


Martin was sentenced August 14 2014 to 12 months of community order (probation/supervision) and 120 hours unpaid work, £85 in court costs, and a £60 victim surcharge. On January 28 2014, she aimed a laser pen about three times at a police helicopter flying over Bircotes -- even though her boyfriend told her not to aim at the aircraft. Her lawyer said Martin did not realize the laser’s power, had not read the label, and did not understand the hazard.

Australia: $2500 fine, $147 court costs, lasers destroyed for 51-year-old man

Peter Allan McArthur, 51
Parmelia, Perth, Western Australia


McArthur was sentenced on July 8 2014 to AUS $2500 in fines (USD $2350), $147 in court costs, and had two lasers destroyed. He had earlier pleaded guilty to aiming a green laser multiple times at a police helicopter. Prosecutors wanted a jail sentence, but the judge took into account McArthur’s guilty plea and his minimal record.

UK: £300 fine, plus £115 for Nottingham area man who lased police helicopter

Craig Mather, 22
Carlton, Nottinghamshire, East Midlands, UK


On February 18 2014, Mather was fined £300 after admitting to directing or shining a light at a police helicopter, so as to dazzle or distract the pilot. The charge stemmed from a January 26 2014 incident where Mather aimed at the aircraft because “the helicopter annoyed him, as it was always above his house, and wanted it to go away. He said he didn't know how far the laser went.” In addition to the £300 fine, Mather was also ordered to pay £85 in costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

UK: Police officer gets two years community service, £3,500 in costs

James McIvor, 53
Luton, Bedfordshire, UK

James McIvor PCSO laser
On May 20 2013, McIvor, a Police Community Service Officer (PCSO) with British Transport Police, aimed a green laser pen at a police helicopter. This dazzled the crew and forced the pilot to take evasive action. McIvor later told officers he had been trying to attract his elderly cat who was on top of his garage. He was convicted in December 2013 of acting in a negligent manner to endanger the safety of an aircraft. He was acquitted of a more serious charge of recklessly endangering the safety of an aircraft. On February 4 2014, McIvor was sentenced in Luton Crown Court to two years community service and was ordered to pay £3,500 in costs.

Wales: Suspended 5-month sentence, 200 hours community service, £165 fine for lasing helicopter 10 times

Kevin Mark Griffiths, 22
Greenfield, Flintshire, Wales, UK

On September 25 2013, Griffiths repeatedly aimed a green laser at a North Wales Police helicopter that was trying to locate a missing person. He hit the aircraft about 10 times over an eight-minute period. At trial Griffiths admitted a charge of recklessly endangering an aircraft or persons inside. On January 9, 2014 he was given a five-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work, and was fined £165 in costs.

US: 1 year in jail and 2 years probation, partner gets 60 days community service and three years probation

Floyd Atkins, 22, and Alvarado Jimenez, 20
Los Angeles, California, US

On July 4 2011, Atkins and Jiminez were arrested on multiple charges for lasing a LAPD helicopter. They also were suspected of previous incidents of aiming at airlines landing at Los Angeles International Airport. On November 1 2012, Atkins was sentenced to one year in county jail, two years probation, and $200 in fines and fees. Jiminez was sentenced in September 2012 to 60 days of Caltrans service and three years probation.

UK: 200 hours community service and £85 in court costs

Neil Shackleton, 27
Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK

Neil Shackleton laser

In August 2012, Shackleton was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid community service, and was ordered to pay £85 in court costs, for shining a laser at South Yorkshire’s police helicopter. Neil Shackleton aimed the laser from his bedroom window to the helicopter as it flew two miles away. On-board cameras helped determine the laser’s location, and ground units arrested Shackleton.

US: 2 years in prison, $500 in court costs

Clint Jason Brenner, 36
Prescott, Arizona, US

Pasted Graphic

On December 9 2009, Brenner illuminated an Arizona police helicopter with a green laser pointer. He was found guilty of two counts of endangerment in April 2010. Brenner was sentenced on May 24 2010 to two years on each count, with the terms to run concurrently. He was also ordered to pay $500 in court costs.