Two men have been fined £150 after they shone a blinding laser beam into the cockpit of a police helicopter as it hovered over a city centre, it emerged today.
Reckless Shane Ramsay, 22 and Darryl Hodgkinson, 20, took it in turns to point the bright green laser pen at the aircraft – dazzling the pilot.
The pair were arrested by police in Cambridge shortly after the incident, which occurred at around 10pm on September 1.
Hodgkinson told officers that they shone the green laser, which he bought at a local market for £20, at the police helicopter ”for a laugh”.
Both Hodgkinson and Ramsay pleaded guilty to ‘directing or shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle or distract the pilot’ at Cambridge Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
Laura Mardell, prosecuting, explained that the police helicopter was on routine duty when the cockpit was hit by the laser light.
She said: ”As it flew over Jesus Green the cockpit was hit by a bright green light coming from the ground. It was identified as a light coming from a laser pen.
”One was Mr Ramsay who was holding a pen-like object in his hand and pointing it towards the helicopter.
”Mr Ramsay handed it to Mr Hodgkinson who also directed the light towards the helicopter.”
Sandeep Kanith, mitigating, said the unemployed pair – who both claim jobseekers allowance – had just been ”messing around”.
He said: ”I don’t think in their wildest dreams they would have thought the light would have been able to go as far as it did and the pilot be affected by it.
”They were messing around, and had no idea what they did could potentially endanger the pilot’s eyesight.”
Presiding magistrate David Gillett ruled their actions were ”stupid” and ordered Hodgkinson and Ramsay to pay £150 each, £85 in costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
He added that Ramsay, who is already under a suspended sentence and doing unpaid work for handling stolen goods, had ”demonstrated a complete lack of progress”.
An order was also made for the pen to be destroyed.
Speaking after the hearing, Sergeant Gordon Murray of Cambridgeshire police said Hodgkinson and Ramsay’s actions could have had ”dire consequences”.
He said: ”This kind of stupidity is increasing in the aviation world. It is reckless and foolhardy and those who do so will be arrested and brought before the courts.”