A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

UK: Eight and six month sentences for two Leicester men

Martin Gary Jayes, 46, and Oktawain Kamil Plaskiewicz, 22
New Parks, Leicester, UK


On March 9 2016, the two men aimed the green beam of a laser pen at a police helicopter, forcing it to abort its mission to find a missing person. The helicopter pilot directed ground officers to a park where they found Jayes and Plaskiewicz. Each said the other was using the laser.

They pleaded guilty to charges of recklessly or negligently endangering the safety of an aircraft and those traveling within it.

On July 22 2016, Jayes was sentenced to eight months in jail, and Plaskiewicz was sentenced to six months. (Jayes previously had 71 convictions on his criminal record and was in breach of a community order at the time of his arrest.)

Scotland: One year in jail for aiming laser pen at police helicopter

Craig Ryan, 23
Stevenston, North Ayrshire, Scotland

Craig Ryan laser

In September 2014, a Police Scotland helicopter was illuminated several times with green laser light while looking for a gunman. The pilot had to take evasive action. The beam was tracked to Ryan’s home. Ryan told officers, “I’m sorry, it was me.”

In December 2015, Ryan admitted “culpable and reckless conduct.” He was sentenced to one year in jail.

From the Scotsman and BBC News

US: One year in jail plus three months probation for lasing plane, helicopters

Enrique Felix Gomez, 19
Gardenia, California, US


Gomez pleaded no contest September 14 2015 to aiming a high-powered green laser at an aircraft, and then at Los Angeles County fire and police helicopters on February 14 2015. Gomez, of Gardenia Calif., was sentenced November 2 2015 to one year in jail and three years probation. From MyNewsLA.com

US: One year in prison for aiming a laser at a California Highway Patrol airplane

Andrew Zarate, 20
Fresno, California, US


Zarate was sentenced November 3 2014 to one year in prison and two years of supervised release, for aiming a laser at a California Highway Patrol aircraft. He could have received five years and a $250,000 fine for illuminating Air 43 up to 50 times with a “powerful green laser pointer” according to the FBI.

During the incident, the pilot suffered temporary blindness and Air 43 was forced to break away from a burglary in progress at a Fresno middle school.

Zarate’s co-defendent, David Walter Fee, was sentenced in September 2014 to 18 months in prison.

US: 1 year in prison, 3 years probation

Robert Duane Nighswander, 44
Orland, California, US

On October 21 2009, Nighswander aimed a green laser at a California Highway Patrol helicopter at least four times. He was sentenced September 28 2010 for using a laser to interfere with an aircraft.

UK: 8 months in jail

Jarome Tomlinson, 21
Maidstone, Kent, UK
On June 24 2010, Tomlinson deliberately tracked a Kent and Essex police helicopter. The pilot had to take a hand off the controls in order to shield his eyes. Tomlinson was charged with recklessly or negligently acting in a way likely to endanger an aircraft. At sentencing on April 15 2011, the judge gave Tomlinson an 8-month jail term, as a deterrent to others.

US: Time served (7 months in jail) plus 1 year probation

Jeffrey Lee Gentry, 33
Bakersfield, California US
On November 6 2010, Gentry was arrested for aiming a laser four times at a Kern County Sheriff's Office helicopter. The pilot suffered temporary spots in his eyes, and was disoriented enough that the aircraft went off course. On January 9 2012, Gentry was sentenced to time served (he had been in jail seven months) and one year of probation.

Scotland: 9 months in jail

Christopher Paton, 22
Glasgow, Scotland
On September 12 2009, Paton repeatedly aimed his green laser at a police helicopter that was searching for two lost 4-year-olds. The crew filmed the location of the laser, enabling ground officers to easily find and arrest Paton. In April 2012, he was sentenced to nine months in jail for endangering the crew.

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.