A MAN who shone a laser pen at a police helicopter has been jailed by a judge who said his actions could have caused “disaster”.
Judge Elgan Edwards, the Recorder of Chester, said the “wicked” actions of Richard James Brooks, 28, of Bridgeman Road, Blacon, could have caused a crash when he shone a laser pen at a police helicopter and that the case reminded him of “the tragic events in Glasgow”.
Brooks was unanimously convicted at Chester Crown Courtby a jury of conduct likely to endanger life on January 21 after a short trial.
The incident on August 11, 2012 happened while police were on duty. The crew had been in the Hoole area when they were targeted by a laser from the direction of Blacon. When the attack persisted, the officers went to investigate.
Simon Parry, prosecuting, said on the night, trained air observer PC Ann Reed had located an individual who was shining the light from a garden at an address in Blacon.
Mr Parry said PC Reed, who was onboard the aircraft, had identified the perpetrator as a male of fairly heavy build who was wearing light clothing, a white T-shirt.
The crew of the helicopter directed police officers on the ground to the property where they found two females and two males.
“One of those was responsible for activating the laser,” said Mr Parry. “And the other male was wearing dark clothing.”
In mitigation the defence counsel, Mark LeBrocq, said Brooks had severe learning difficulties which meant he didn’t understand the potential consequences of his actions.
Mr LeBrocq asked for any sentence to be suspended so probation could intervene and work with Brooks to address his offending behaviour.
However Judge Edwards said he had to send Brooks to immediate custody because of the seriousness of the crime and jailed him for nine months.
Sentencing him, Judge Edwards, said: “Richard Brooks, what you did was extremely wicked.
“Shining one of these beams at a helicopter could have caused great danger to the helicopter pilot, the three people in it and it could have come down in an urban area.
"You put at risk three people in a helicopter and people on the ground in the city. It could have been a disaster and then you did not have the courage to plead guilty."
“You may have not fully appreciated that but you should have known it was wrong.
“I am afraid custody is inevitable to punish you and make it clear to the public that if people do this to put aircraft at risk, in this case a police helicopter with three people on board, there must be a custodial sentence.”
* TEN people died when the Police Scotland helicopter crashed into the roof of the Clutha pub on November 29 last year.
A major incident was declared after the Eurocopter EC135 T2 - with a crew of three consisting of two police officers and a civilian pilot - came down on the roof of the pub in Stockwell Street at 10.25pm.
See full story in the Chester Leader