Helicopter laser man faces jail

A POLICE helicopter pilot was praised today after his quick-thinking actions averted a tragedy when a man shone a laser at the aircraft, rendering him incapable of seeing the controls.

Rebecca Lefort

A POLICE helicopter pilot was praised today after his quick-thinking actions averted a tragedy when a man shone a laser at the aircraft, rendering him incapable of seeing the controls.

After a landmark legal case brought by Suffolk prosecutors, 20-year-old Glen Porter is facing the threat of a jail term after he admitted endangering the aircraft when he pointed the green light at the Suffolk police helicopter.

The Crown Prosecution Service said today that it was the first time in Suffolk, and only the second time in the country, that someone had been prosecuted for the offence - which can result in up to two years in prison.


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The warning that Porter, of St Augustine Road, Ipswich, could be sent to jail came after South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court was told that his actions on April 27 could have had horrific consequences if the pilot had lost control of the helicopter.

Clare Forsdike, prosecuting, told the court: “It was approximately 12.35am and Suffolk Constabulary's police helicopter was above Ipswich looking for a vulnerable missing person.

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“The defendant had a laser pen that was pointed at the helicopter.

“Luckily, due to the skill of the pilot, the helicopter was turned and nothing more serious occurred.”

The drama sparked a police search for the culprit and Porter was apprehended a short time later.

Miss Forsdike said: “The defendant was located by the aircraft using thermal imagining in the car park at the rear of Zest nightclub.

“Police found him on the ground with the pen.”

She said police asked Porter, who is currently receiving mental health care at St Clement's Hospital, Ipswich, if he knew his actions had been dangerous and he said: “Yes, it would dazzle them and they may crash.”

Miss Forsdike added: “He fully accepted it could have quite catastrophic results.”

She then read out a statement from the senior helicopter pilot, Steven Cholerton, who had been involved in the hunt for a missing child at the time.

He said: “Suddenly the cockpit was illuminated by an extremely bright and powerful flash of green light.

“It was necessary to rapidly turn the aircraft.

“I was unable to see the aircraft instruments.”

Porter is due to be sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court at a later date after his appearance in court on Friday.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Crown Prosecution Service said: “This type of offence is becoming more common across the country with potentially serious consequences.

“CPS Suffolk therefore felt it was very important to bring this offender to justice in view of the serious nature of his actions.

“The pilot and crew should be commended for their skill and quick reactions which ensured that this dangerous act did not end in tragedy.”

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