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Australia: "Laser fool" sentenced, fined for illuminating police helicopter

A Sydney mechanic who deliberately shone a laser into the eyes of police as they hovered in a helicopter hundreds of metres above homes in Sydney's northwest was yesterday sentenced to six months jail.

Zakary Patrick Babet, of Bella Vista, was yesterday convinced in Hornsby Local Court of interfering with a crew member while in an aircraft.

Magistrate Leslie Brennan called Babet a "fool", and labelled his actions as a "serious" offence.
The 20-year-old Babet had earlier plead guilty to shining the 532nm wavelength green laser light into the cabin of the NSW police Air Wing "Squirrel" Helicopter on June 18 this year [2008].

"It creates a danger for all concerned including those in the aircraft and those on the ground," Mr Brennan said yesterday.

He said the seriousness of the offence warranted a jail term.

"I think this does call for a jail sentence - I think anything less would be inappropriate," Mr Brennan said.

He sentenced Babet to six months jail - but ordered that he be released straight away on a $1000 surety provided that he be of good behaviour for 12 months and pay a $1500 pecuniary penalty order.

The court heard that Babet had bought the laser for $10 dollars while on holidays in Thailand.

He told police he had known the dangers of shining the laser into the cabin of the helicopter but that he hadn't intended to endanger the aircraft or its crew.

Babet told police he had shone the laser at the helicopter to see if it "went the distance".

The laser had been shone into the cabin and into the eyes of the crew when the helicopter was flying 1600 feet above homes in Bella Vista.

It had distracted the pilot and each of the three crew on board said it had caused them to temporarily be unable to perform normal flight duties, the court heard.

From the Daily Telegraph