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UK: 240 hours of community service for selling illegal laser pens

Lynsey McClure, 47
Surrey, UK

Lynsey McClure laser

McClure was sentenced in mid-July 2016 to 240 hours of community service for illegally importing 300 over-powered lasers. One of the lasers was sold for £6 (USD $9) at a school Christmas fair and subsequently caused an eye injury to a seven-year-old boy.

Lynsey McClure had imported the lasers from a Chinese supplier who said they complied with U.K. regulations limiting laser pens to 1 milliwatt of power. Her brother, who was not charged, sold them in a stall during a school fair in December 2015. The headmaster asked her brother to stop selling the laser, but he continued.

Jonathan Marshall, 7, purchased one of the lasers. It was later found to have an output of 127 milliwatts.

His mother said Jonathan was playing with it at home when the beam went into his eye for “a fraction of a second.” He has a retinal burn which interferes with his vision.

McClure pleaded guilty to nine product safety and consumer protection violations, including selling an unsafe product and failing to disclose the power of the laser.

The case appears to be the first where a person has been prosecuted for an illegal laser sale that led to an injury.

From the Sunday Times (subscription required to read the entire article) and the JC.com

Canada: One year conditional discharge for Winnipeg teen who aimed laser at police helicopter

Akshay Sharma, 19
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


Sharma was given a one year conditional discharge sentence, plus 30 hours of community service, on December 21 2015 for aiming a laser pointer at a Winnipeg city police helicopter in June 2015. The aircrew was temporarily distracted and disoriented.

Sharma’s lawyer said the teen “was goofing around to see how high [the laser] could project into the sky”, and did not intend to create a hazard.

US: 5 years probation, 200 hours service for twice aiming a laser at a student helicopter pilot

Christopher Lee Funk, 35
Concord, North Carolina, US


Christopher Funk laser

On May 6, 2014, Christopher Funk aimed a laser pointer at a helicopter containing a student pilot and instructor. The aircraft was targeted as it practiced landing at the Cape Fear (N.C.) Regional Jetport near Oak Island. The helicopter moved to the far end of the runway for another practice landing but was again targeted. Funk was located by police; he told them he was drunk and did not remember much of the incident.

On May 11 2015, Funk pleaded guilty. He was sentenced in federal court on November 4 2015 to five years probation and 200 hours of community service.

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.

US: $235 fine, 80 hours service for aiming laser at NFL Buffalo Bills player during Detroit Lions game

Marko Beslach, 17
West Bloomfield, Michigan, US


During a National Football League game on October 5 2014, Beslach aimed a laser pointer at Buffalo Bills quarterback Kyle Orton and kicker Dan Carpenter. Beslach was trying to distract the Bills players in their game against Beslach’s favored team, the Detroit Lions. The players were not injured and play did not seem to be affected.

Beslach was identified when he boasted about his laser use on Twitter.

On October 9 2014, the Detroit Lions banned Beslach from all future events at Ford Field. The season-ticket holder who accompanied Beslach — perhaps his father — had his tickets pulled for the remainder of the season.

In November 2014, Beslach pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. He was fined $235, had to do 80 hours of community service, and was given a one-year suspended sentence. He will have his case reviewed November 23 2015.

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.

US: Eight years, suspended, for Ohio lasing of a TV helicopter

Nicholas Vecchiarelli, 46
Hubbard, Ohio, US


Nicholas Vecchiarelli laser

Vecchiarelli was sentenced on October 2 2014 to probation for five years, has to do 200 hours of community service, must write an apology to his victims, has to pay a $1,000 fine, has an 11 pm curfew, and must stay out of liquor establishments. If he violates his probation, he could go to prison for eight years.

Vecchiarelli was arrested for aiming a laser at a news helicopter that was filming an October 11 2013 football game at Hubbard (Ohio) High School. The cameraman told police the laser light entered his eyes. He was able to direct police to the laser location, about 1 mile southeast of the stadium.

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.

US: Two years probation, 50 hours community service for Florida man

Michael Fischer, 26
Wellington (Palm Beach area), Florida, US

Michael Fischer laser

Fischer was sentenced July 29 2014 to two years probation and 50 hours of community service, for the December 30, 2012 lasing of a commercial jet and the sheriff’s helicopter that was sent to investigate. After his sentence, he told LaserPointerSafety that aiming at the aircraft was “the worst mistake of my life. Now I am a convicted felon.” His warning for others was “Don’t think you’re not going to get caught, because if you do it you’re going to get caught.”

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.

Scotland: 240 hours of community service for ADHD man who lased police helicopter, 8 weeks before copter crashed into pub

Grant Jones, 24
Edinburgh, Scotland

Grant Jones laser

Jones was sentenced to 240 hours of community service on June 2 2014, for aiming a green laser beam at a Police Scotland helicopter.

The incident occurred on October 1 2013. The helicopter pilot turned the craft away from the beam, to avoid the light. Other crew used infrared cameras to track the perpetrator and direct ground officers to his location. The officers found a laser pen in the possession of Grant Jones, 24, and arrested him.

Jones avoided jail time “because his actions were linked to his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”, according to an Edinburgh Evening Times news story.

The same helicopter crashed into a pub in Glasgow on November 29 2013, killing all three on board plus seven persons on the ground. There is no linkage between Jones’ laser illumination and the crash 60 days later, which was caused by both engines flaming out.

New Zealand: Alcohol treatment, community service & probation for man who lased police helicopter

Kristian Larsen, 44
Auckland, New Zealand


On May 30 2014, Larsen was sentenced to alcohol treatment, 100 hours of community service, and 12 months probation after being convicted of endangering transport. On December 1 2013, the pilot of the Eagle police helicopter was momentarily blinded and, a day later, had a headache after being exposed to blue light from Larsen’s laser. At sentencing, the judge called Larsen’s actions a “drunken escapade.” Larsen said he regretted his actions: “We all make mistakes, and this was mine to make.”

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.

US: Two years probation for Tucson man who lased sheriff's plane

Jack Downey, 24
Tucson, Arizona, US


On February 12 2014, Downey was sentenced to two years suspended probation in federal court, for aiming a laser pointer at a Pima County Sheriff’s department airplane on March 5 2013. Downey and another man were also suspected of lasing a commercial airplane prior to the sheriff’s plane.

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.

UK: £250 fine for aiming at helicopter with police on board

Gavin Brace, 25
Ryhope, Tyne and Wear, UK

On September 5 2013, Brace was fined £250 (USD $390) for directing or shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle or distract the pilot.. On August 17 2013, Brace aimed at a helicopter being flown by a commercial pilot with two Northumbria Police officers on board. He later told police that he wanted to see how far the laser pen could reach, and that he did not realize the effect it would have on the pilot. During sentencing, the judge told Brace "I regret that the offense you are charged with can only be punished with a fine, many people will feel that is inadequate."

Australia: $10,000 fine after Woodvale man aims laser at police helicopter

Christopher Manning, 40
Woodvale, Western Australia, Australia

On September 4 2013, Manning was fined AUS $10,000 (USD $9,140) for causing fear with a laser or light. On August 3 2013, a police helicopter was conducting a search in the Perth suburb of Woodvale when it was hit a number of times by a bright green laser light. The pilot had “immediate distress” and took evasive action. Ground officers arrested Manning at his home in Woodvale. He was later found guilty in Joondalup magistrates court.

UK: £305 in fines for lasing police helicopter

Victoria Rayner and Robert Gilbert
Hebburn, Tyne and Wear, UK


Victoria Rayner Robert Gilbert laser
Rayner and GIlbert were each fined £100 (USD $155), plus they had to pay court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £20. They pleaded guilty August 27 2013 to shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle the pilot. On May 8 2013, the couple were in bed, aiming a laser pen at a nearby dog, when they then aimed it at a police helicopter searching for a missing 11-year-old boy. The pilot traced the beam back to a house in Hebburn where they were found in a back bedroom. They initially denied having a laser but then officers found it under the mattress. At trial, magistrates were told it was not an imprisonable offense, so the pair could only be fined or discharged. The Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner said “This was extremely reckless behavior, which could have had horrific consequences…. This relatively small fine does mean offenders appear to have been let off somewhat lightly…”

Australia: AUS $400 fine for possession

Patrick Toohey, 24
Orange, New South Wales, Australia

On May 16 2013, Toohey was fined AUS $400 for possession of a laser pointer in a public place. The pointer had been found in a vehicle during a traffic stop.

US: 2 years probation, 2 months home confinement, 40 hours community service

Michael Brandon Smith, 35
St. Louis area, Missouri, US

On April 11 2013, Smith was sentenced to two years of probation, two months of home confinement and 40 hours of community service for the May 18 2012 lasing of a police helicopter.

UK: 6 months suspended, 150 hours unpaid work

Jack Waistle, 21
Middlesbrough, UK

Pic 2013-04-11 at 12.47.37 AM
On April 10 2013, Waistle was given a six-month suspended sentence and 150 hours of unpaid work, for aiming a laser pen at a Cleveland Police helicopter. Leaving the courtroom, Waistle put two fingers up (photo above) which the Daily Star wrote was “defiant”.

US: 2 years probation

David Banach, 38
Parsippany, New Jersey, US

david-banach-laser

On December 31 2004, Banach aimed a laser pointer at a police helicopter searching for the source of a laser that illuminated a charter jet two nights earlier. Banach was charged with terrorism under the Patriot Act in a high-profile case attracting media attention worldwide. He faced 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Under a plea bargain, Banach pleaded guilty to shining a laser beam at an airplane (another source says the charge was interfering with the operator of a mass transit vehicle). Charges of lying to the FBI were dropped. On February 15 2008 he was sentenced to two years probation with no fines or other penalties. His lawyer also says the judge restored Banach’s reputation. The New York Times reported that Banach had received threatening letters and had lost two jobs.

New Zealand: 300 hours of community service

Bernard Westbrook Long, 60
Te Iro Bay, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

bernard westbrook long laser

Long was arrested October 13 2007, for aiming a laser at Interisland ferries on September 22 and October 12. He pleaded guilty in June 2008, and was sentenced in May 2009 to 300 hours of community service.

Italy: €15,000 fine

"Napoli" Serie A football club
Naples, Italy

On October 28 2009, supporters of the soccer team Napoli aimed a laser into the eyes of AC Milan's goalkeeper Dida. Napoli was fined €15,000 (about USD $22,000).

UK: £800 fine for two men

Darryl Hodgkinson, 20 and Shane Ramsay, 22
Cambridge, UK

On September 1 2010, Hodgkinson and Ramsay were arrested for aiming a laser pen at a police helicopter. They were found guilty of directing or shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle or distract the pilot on September 14 2010. They were fined $400 each.

Canada: CDN $500 fine, forfeiture of laser

Alvin Bautista, 38
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

On August 19 2009, Bautista aimed a laser through a tree; it illuminated a police helicopter 2.5 miles away. One count of behavior that endangers an aircraft was dismissed (the maximum penalty was 5 years in prison and a $100,000 fine). Bautista was found guilty on June 23 2010 of projecting a bright light source to create a hazard to aviation safety. The judge said the February 18 2011 sentence was for "general deterrence … to make the public aware of the potential consequences of a laser on aircrafts."

US: 1 year probation, 140 hours of community service, cannot possess a laser pointer

Michael Anthony Fowler, 34
Silver Springs Shores, Marion County, Florida, US

Michael Anthony Fowler

On December 2 2010, Fowler aimed a blue laser pointer at a sheriff's helicopter. He said "I didn't even think the laser pointer could reach that far." Under a plea bargain, on March 10 2011 Fowler admitted a third-degree felony of pointing a laser light at a driver or pilot. He could have received up to five years in prison.

US: 30 months probation, $5000 fine

Todd Michael Manz, 43
Fostoria, Ohio, US

On July 20 2010, Manz aimed 50 milliwatt handheld lasers at river barges, airplanes and a police helicopter in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. He pleaded guilty on May 20 2011 to lying to FBI agents. Manz could have received up to 30 months in prison.

Also involved were David Erminger, 28, and Matthew Mauck, 34. They were placed on one-year diversion on June 22 2011. The criminal charges against them will be erased if they stay out of trouble (no new charges) during the next year.

Australia: AUS $1000 fine for laser pointing; $300 for drug possession

Morgan Daniel Raine, 35
New Farm (Brisbane), Queensland, Australia



On May 20 2011, Raine aimed a laser pointer at Channel 9's helicopter. He was convicted June 29 2011 of endangering the safe use of a vehicle. Raine said the lasing was stupid and he meant no harm.

US: 5 years probation

Mark Clay Hazlitt, 59
Lakeland, Florida, US



On November 21 2010, Hazlitt aimed a green laser pointer at a sheriff's department helicopter because he was "tired of hearing" the helicopter. Hazlitt was sentenced June 2 2011 to five years probation on federal charges of interfering with the operation of a helicopter.

The judge ruled that Hazlitt’s laser pointer was not a “dangerous weapon” under the circumstances of the case. This finding helped reduce the severity of Hazlitt’s sentence; he could have received up to 20 years in prison.

Sweden: Suspended sentence with community service

Unnamed man, 21
Sweden

In February 2010, a 21-year-old repeatedly aimed a laser at a police helicopter. He could have received 90 days in jail. Instead, he was convicted of "aviation sabotage" and received a suspended sentence with community service, in June 2011.

US: 2 years probation, USD $250 fine, 240 hours community service

Jason G. Heeringa, 29
Brookfield (Chicago area) Illinois, US



On June 16 2010 (and possibly as early as April 30), Heeringa aimed a green laser at a cargo plane. The pilot videotaped the incident and used Google Maps to tell police the location. Heeringa pleaded guilty in a plea bargain to misdemeanor counts of aggravated assault and battery and was sentenced July 12 2011.

Canada: CDN $5,000 fine

Chris Saulnier, 39
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

On January 5 2011, Saulnier aimed a green laser pointer at three aircraft. He was tracked by a police helicopter and arrested. Saulnier pleaded guilty on July 26 2011 to an unknown charge.

US: 6 months home confinement, 5 years probation, 500 hours community service

Joseph Aquino, 32
Warwick, Rhode Island, US

On September 15 2010, Aquino aimed a green laser at a boat, car, and commercial airliner. Prosecutors asked for two years in prison. He was sentenced September 12 2011. In addition to the above penalties, Aquino must undergo mental health counseling and submit to 72 drug tests each year.

US: 1 year probation, $4000 fine

Frank Newton Anderson, 43
Orlando, Florida, US

Frank Newton Anderson

On April 13 2010, Anderson was arrested for aiming a green laser at an Orange County (FL) sheriff's helicopter. He pleaded guilty in December 2010, and was sentenced in July 2011 on a federal charge of interfering with the operation of an aircraft.

His case was especially interesting since it paralleled the case of Jason Dennis McGuire who was arrested March 2010 in Orlando for firing a handgun at an Orange County Sheriff’s Office helicopter. McGuire was sentenced in April 2011 to 12.5 years in prison.

US: 5 years probation and a $5,000 fine

Christopher Bryan Willingham, 28
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Pic 2012-05-22 at 2.17.57 PM

On November 1 2011, Willingham aimed a green laser multiple times at a Virginia Beach police helicopter. During the 20-minute long incident, one of the pilots had black spots in one eye and could not see his instruments. On May 18 2012, Willingham was sentenced in federal court to five years probation and a $5,000 fine.

Canada: House arrest, curfew, probation, cannot possess a laser pointer

Jason John McConnell, 35
Calgary, Alberta
On August 16 2010, McConnell aimed a laser into the cockpit of a police helicopter. The crew broke off their mission to deal with the laser. They located McConnell and ground crews arrested him. On June 18 2012, McConnell was sentenced to two months of house arrest, four months with a 10 pm to 5 am curfew, six months of probation, 25 hours of community service, and counseling. In addition, he is not permitted to possess a laser pointer.

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.

Australia: AUS $20,000 fine for couple; possible loss of visa

Patricia Giguere, 29, and Clemens Trauttmansdorff, 31
Port Kennedy, Perth, Western Australia

Patricia Giguere laser

On October 25 2012, Giguere and Trauttmansdorff were each fined AUS $10,000 for lasing a police helicopter on July 20 2012. In addition, the conviction jeopardizes the ability of Giguere, a Canadian citizen, to stay in Australia on a partner provisional visa. Guigere (pictured above demonstrating how she aimed the laser) said in an interview that the fine would adversely affect her plans to start a business and buy land for a home.