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article imageTwo British men jailed for pointing laser at police helicopter

By Arthur Weinreb     Jul 25, 2016 in Crime
Leicester - The two men were jailed after they were convicted of pointing a laser pen at a police helicopter that was searching for a missing person. The search had to be called off.
Two neighbours, Martin Jayes, 46, and Octawain Plaskiewicz, 22, appeared in Leicester Crown Court last week for sentencing. At an earlier hearing, both men pleaded guilty to a count of recklessly or negligently endangering the safety of an aircraft and those travelling within it.
Around 11 p.m. on March 9, a police helicopter was circling a park in Leicester looking for a missing person when a laser pen was shone in the eyes of the pilots. The crew was then forced to take evasive action and call off the search for the missing person.
But technology aboard the helicopter enabled it to record what was happening on the ground. Film showed one of the men passing the laser pen to the other one. They threw the pen away but it was later recovered by police. The Leicester Mercury reports both men were apprehended about 16 minutes after the first flash occurred. Each man told police the other one did it.
Jayes, who had 71 previous convictions on his record and was in breach of a community order when he committed the offence, was sentenced to eight months in jail. Plaskiewicz, who was openly weeping in court, was jailed for six months. Plaskiewicz's lawyer said his client was "mortified" by what he had done. Court was told the 22-year-old works 60-70 hours a week to provide for his partner, her nine-year-old son, and their two-week-old baby.
In passing sentence, Judge Adrienne Lucking QC said what the men did posed "very grave risks" not only to the helicopter crew but to other members of the public. By shining the laser pen, police could not take part in an operation that was serious enough to require the use of a helicopter.
As ABC News reported last year, pointing a laser at a person, even at the distance a pilot is from the laser, can cause flash blindness. If both eyes are hit, the pilot will not be able to see to fly the plane. John Nance, a pilot and aviation consultant, said the odds are high if the beam hits the eye for long enough, the result can be permanent eye damage that prevents the pilot from ever flying again. It is hardly the prank some people think it is.
More about laser pen, endangering an aircraft, Helicopter, police helicopter, Lasers
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