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UK: Suspended sentence, rehab for 55-year-old who aimed a laser pen at a helicopter after it interrupted his audiobook

Stephen Reid, 55
Kentish Town, northwest London, UK

On July 18 2019 Reid aimed a blue laser pen at a police helicopter that was searching for an individual. Reid did so because the helicopter noise was interrupting his listening to an audiobook.

The helicopter aimed a spotlight at Reid, who threw away the laser pen in his back yard. When ground officers came to his home, Reid would not admit them. They had to threaten to use force before he opened the door.

A blue and a green laser pointer were found by a canine unit. Reid admitted the lasers were his.

In court in January 2020, Reid's attorney said Reid was "plagued by police helicopters searching for individuals…. Something got into his head and he utilized this laser pen to cause what could have been a catastrophe."

On January 29 2020, the judge gave Reid a four-month sentence suspended for 18 months, plus he had to complete a 60-day rehabilitation program.

The judge said "Any distraction and that helicopter is crashing into an urban area with devastating consequences. You were irritated, frustrated and annoyed at what they were doing interrupting your audiobook and it’s clear you were not thinking about the consequences of your behaviour. By the finest margin I can imagine I can suspend this sentence. You’ve caught me on a good day."

From Metro.co.uk