Laser pen user narrowly avoids jail

 

A father of five who accidentally shone a laser pen at a police helicopter, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing, was told by a judge he had avoided jail by a "whisker" today.

Stuart Bowering was facing a possible prison sentence after a court was told the laser had impaired the crew's vision.

Bristol Crown Court heard the 31-year-old's actions in December last year had almost caused the helicopter to move into Bristol Airport's airspace which could have resulted in the diversion of a commercial flight that was coming in to land.

During the period of time the laser was shone into the cockpit - approximately three seconds - the pilot, Paul Maddox, said the laser put "temporary black spots" in his vision.

But Bowering - who pleaded guilty to a charge of recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft - told the court he had not realised the power of the laser pen.

The self-employed builder was walking his two dogs with his 10-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son near his home in Hawkfield Road, Hartcliffe, at about 9.10pm on December 3 when the laser he was using to make his dogs run around was directed into the sky.

Asked if he was aware of the helicopter, Bowering said: "I heard it, but I didn't realise it was that close.

"I was moving the pen in a figure of eight on the ground and then flung it up in the air to confuse the dogs.

"I've seen the CCTV and my reaction was that I was shocked from the power of the pen. I didn't realise it would go that far up in the sky."

Bowering told the court he had been trying to wear his dogs out and despite the CCTV showing the laser passing through the cockpit and back again he had not meant to direct it at the helicopter.

Following the incident Bowering was traced to his address and immediately admitted he owned the pen.

Nigel Fryer, defending, said: "This isn't a man who had deliberately gone out to target the helicopter.

"He is extremely sorry for his actions, he did not realise the gravity of his actions, he did not realise the law and he certainly did not realise the power of the pen."

Bowering, who appeared in court casually dressed, was handed a 12-month community order which included his attendance at a Thinking and Skills course, a three-month curfew between the hours of 9pm and 6.30am and was told he would have to repay £200 in court costs.

Passing sentence, the judge, Recorder Harry Martineau, said: "It is clear from the video recording I have seen that you were out with your children and two dogs when you were playing around with this laser pen.

"You have said the contact between the pen and the helicopter was an accident. I accept the initial point was an accident but it does seem to be something you repeated.

"I hope you have taken on board what is in the pilot's statement that what you did almost caused him to trespass on the airspace of Bristol Airport and cause a diversion of a commercial flight.

"People who attempt to target helicopters in this stupid and idiotic way should expect to go to prison.

"It is only by a whisker that I find you did not do this on purpose. I should have sent you to prison but as it is, I didn't.

"It is clear you need some help thinking through the consequences of your actions."

The incident was one of a growing number of attacks on aircraft with laser pointers, which emit a beam of light and are designed for indoor use to highlight items during presentations.

PA

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home