Today, a 55-year-old man is starting a prison sentence (18 January 2022) for shining a laser at a police helicopter.
At about 21:00 hours on 19th July 2021, a helicopter crew from the National Police Air Service’s Newcastle base were searching for a suspect vehicle that had failed to stop for police officers from Northumbria Police.
A green laser was repeatedly directed towards the helicopter while airborne, endangering the crew.
Officers pinpointed the location from which the laser was being shone and directed Northumbria officers so they could identify and arrest the offender.
At Newcastle Crown Court on Tuesday 18 January 2022, Sean O’Neil of the Felling area of Gateshead was jailed for 20 weeks, having been charged with shining a direct laser towards a vehicle.
Following the sentence, NPAS Head of Flight Operations Paul Watts said:
“Distracting a helicopter crew whilst they are in flight is an extremely serious offence and one which we will always seek prosecution for.
“It also distracts police from the job they are doing to protect the public. This mindless behaviour endangers the safety of the crew, and the public, and a jail sentence is appropriate and welcomed by us.
“We are able to identify where lasers come from and direct officers to the location. On this occasion, we thank Northumbria Police for arresting the offender and pursuing prosecution.”
PC Rachael Bell, of Northumbria Police, added:
“O’Neil’s actions were dangerous and I am pleased that this has been reflected in a custodial sentence.
“We are incredibly thankful for the support that NPAS provides.
“They are a crucial asset who play a key role in helping to keep our communities safe.
“For somebody to endanger the lives of their crews by shining a laser in this way is absolutely appalling.
“We will always look to bring effective justice against anybody who endangers the lives of others.”
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