A businessman who attacked a helicopter in a fit of rage after it landed outside his £1.2million flat and tried to hang on as it took off laden with passengers was imprisoned for one year today.
Houshang Jafari, 58, was ”livid” when the private Jet Ranger blew debris at his Land Rover as it landed in the extensive gardens shared by luxury flat owners in a converted manor house just outside of Bristol.
He ”stormed” towards the chopper and threw a green plastic bag full of chicken bones towards the rotor before trying to open the pilot’s door, then held on to the skid bar as the aircraft took off.
Pilot Dr Mark Blokland and his three passengers feared for their lives after 140kg Jafari pulled at the helicopter’s undercarriage causing it to pitch to one side.
Property developer Jafari was convicted of endangering the safety of an aircraft and yesterday sentenced to one year in prison at Bristol Crown Court.
Judge Michael Roach said: ”You were convicted by the jury of recklessly endangering a helicopter that was flying on the 21st of May last year.
”The Crown’s case against you was that you were reckless in two ways – firstly when the helicopter was about to take off you threw a plastic bag with its contents towards the aircraft.
”Secondly as the helicopter was taking off the ground you grabbed its right hand skid. Throwing the bag alarmed not only the occupants but the pilot – it might have had catastrophic consequences.
”Grabbing the right hand skid on take off was very dangerous and was liable to destabalise the aircraft which had only risen six feet off the ground.
”You physically interfered with a helicopter on take off. In my judgement your behaviour was deliberate and reckless.”
Chiropractor and private pilot Dr Blokland flew the Jet Ranger helicopter to luxury apartment block Dower House with his wife Tammy on March 21st, 2009, to pick up his business partner Simon Clarke and his partner Elizabeth Hale.
Mr Clarke had met with other residents of the building to ensure there were no problems with the landing but had not informed everyone of the helicopters impending arrival.
Dr Blokland, who has more than 400 hours of flying experience, circled the area twice at 1,000 feet before he landed and kept the rotor blades spinning at ”idle” speed while the couple boarded.
But after collecting his passengers he saw Jafari approach the aircraft. The ”livid” businessman threw a green plastic bag full of chicken bones he had been feeding his dogs at the helicopter before kicking it with the sole of his foot.
As the helicopter began to lift off Jafari then clung on to the right skid bar forcing the craft to bank ”aggressively” to the right hand side, terrifying the passengers and witnesses to the scene.
The helicopter ”rocked from side to side” and witnesses thought it would crash into the nearby houses, but experienced pilot Dr Blokland managed to recover the aircraft and set it down in a nearby field.
The scene was so dramatic that during the trial passenger Miss Hale described to the jury how she believed she was going to die.
Jafari was convicted of one count of endangering an aircraft at a trial in June.
Yesterday Judge Michael Roach told the businessman that he had taken into account the fact that Jafari has a young family, business commitments and health problems but said the offence demanded a custodial sentence.
He said: ”You are an intelligent, resourceful man who on this particular occasion let your temper get the better of you and you acted in a dangerous manner.
”In my judgement the case is too serious to justify a suspended sentence.
”You will serve your 12-month sentence on this basis – there will come a time when you are eligible for release.
”Your sentence will not go away – it will hang over your head and should you commit further offences you will serve out the rest of your sentence.”
Judge Roach also ordered Jafari to pay £2,800 in costs, saying: ”There is no reason, it seems to me, why the public should bear the expense of this case.”