A St Helens teenager who shone a laser pen at a police helicopter has been ordered to meet the pilot whose life he endangered.
The 15-year-old will visit the chopper crew’s aircraft base as part of a nine-month referral order imposed by a judge this week. A youth court hearing at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court was told the teenager targeted the aircraft “on a number of distinct occasions so it could not have been said that it was happening by accident”.
District Judge James Prowse said the youngster – who cannot be named for legal reasons – at the time had “no conception of the seriousness of the matter” but has since been told of the potential dangers. He added: “He was doing it to see how far the laser pen would go. It was not done with any malicious intent or any idea of the danger to the aircraft.”
Two teens were arrested in Ashton in the early hours of December 21 after the helicopter crew used thermal imaging equipment to pinpoint their location to officers on the ground.
The pilot – who was flying at 1,000ft and 60 knots (around 70mph) – had military experience and had been targeted by a laser pen in the past, the court heard.
Having first run away from the police, the pair were apprehended and after interview it was determined only one had shone the laser.
The defendant, who was 14 at the time, “understood how serious his actions had been” having spoken to police and later pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, the court was told.
Judge Prowse – who revealed he too had a military background – said the defendant would be able to learn about air safety on his visit to the base.
He added: “Thankfully the pilot with his experience was able to ensure the safety of the aircraft. He knew the potential dangers of such activities.
“The level of brightness (in the cockpit) would have meant he (the pilot) would have been navigating on his instruments.
“It takes 20 minutes to get night vision back again.
“Perhaps it could be arranged for a visit to the crew’s base. The pilot may say ‘I will have a session with this chap’. This could be extremely useful.
Addressing the defendant, Judge Prowse added: “You appreciate now the danger caused by your actions.”