8 months prison for shining laser at UK police helicopter

8 months prison for shining laser at UK police helicopter 16 Apr, 11, Source: Kent Police

A 21-year-old Maidstone man has been sentenced to eight months in prison for endangering the Kent and Essex Police helicopter while it was on a task in Maidstone last year.

On the evening of 24 June 2010 the police helicopter was carrying out a search in the town centre when someone shining a laser pen in the direction of the aircraft distracted the pilot. The laser lit up the flight deck, dazzling the pilot and forcing him to remove a hand from the flight controls to shield his eyes. As he tried to manoeuvre the craft away from the light he was deliberately tracked.

The aircrew managed to direct local patrols to the origin of the light, where Jarome Tomlinson was arrested. He was later charged with recklessly or negligently acting in a way that was likely to endanger an aircraft, contrary to the Civil Aviation Act 1982. He was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday 15 April.

Act was dangerous for the crew and people on the ground

Acting Superintendent Nicola Faulconbridge of the Force Contact and Control Centre said: ‘This was a very dangerous thing to do and consequences could have been far more serious, but for the skills of the pilot.

The crew were going about their daily job – protecting the public – when the light from the laser blinded the pilot. It is testament to his flying skills that he maintained control of the craft but it was an act that not only endangered the crew but also those below in Maidstone town centre.’

His Honour Judge Macdonald QC, passing sentence, said Tomlinson came from a good home with a good mother and had shown genuine remorse but that a suspended sentence wouldn’t provide a deterrent to others.

Tomlinson will spend four months of his eight month sentence in prison.

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