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Wales: Six months for Cardiff man, for aiming laser at four aircraft

Liam Chadwick, 28
St Mellons, Cardiff, Wales, UK

Liam Chadwick laser Wales

On August 1 2015, a Ryanair pilot reported seeing a green beam on takeoff from Bristol Airport. Two other aircraft had their flight paths altered because of the laser illumination. A police helicopter sent to locate the laser source found it was coming from a top-floor flat in eastern Cardiff. Ground police were sent.

After three minutes of knocking, Chadwick opened the door. Police found parts of a laser pen, which when re-assembled, produced green light.

The helicopter pilot had laser light go into his eye, and “had to see an optician to find out if he was fit to fly again,” according to the prosecutor at Chadwick’s October 2015 trial.

Chadwick’s barrister said “It was a laser pen he had bought for £1 and he didn’t realize or appreciate the consequences of what he was doing. He is deeply apologetic and says he wants to write a letter of apology to each of the pilots. He would never have played with a laser in the way he did if he had known it was a criminal act.”

Chadwick pleaded guilty to four counts of recklessly acting in a manner likely to endanger aircraft (the three passenger planes and the police helicopter).

The trial judge rejected Chadwick’s plea for leniency due to his father being ill: “It was protracted behaviour, over a period of 20 minutes, and officers were directed to your home found you dismantling the pen. You say you are sorry, have entered an early guilty plea to reckless endangerment, and sadly your father is unwell. But such offences are becoming all too prevalent and it must be made absolutely plain to those who may buy these pens and behave in this way that custodial sentences are inevitable in order to deter others. In my view it is far too serious to be dealt with in any other way. The consequences to those travelling on those aircraft and to others on the ground could have been catastrophic.”

The judge sentenced Chadwick to six months in jail.

He was given an additional six months on an unrelated November 2014 charge of possessing cannabis with intent to supply, which had previously been suspended.

From the Guardian and Wales Online

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: 6 months in youth offender institution

Ross McDonnell-Jones, 21
Newport, Wales, UK

On October 12 2010, McDonnell-Jones used a laser pen to illuminate a police helicopter for about five minutes. The man had purchased the green laser the day before. He admitted aiming the laser outdoors but said he did not see the aircraft. He was sentenced in September 2011.