A MAN has been fined for deliberately firing a laser pen at a police helicopter.
Wrexham magistrates yesterday found Nathan Barry Griffiths, of Ernest Parry Road, Wrexham, guilty of recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or person in an aircraft.
Griffiths, 23, had pleaded not guilty to the offence, which occurred shortly after 8pm on Sunday, February 20.
John Wyland, prosecuting, said it was a “straightforward case with straightforward facts” concerning up to four green lights being shone at the police helicopter as it flew over Wrexham, attempting to track down people involved in an unconnected offence.
A light was shone from Hullah Lane and the remainder followed in quick succession from Prince Charles Road, leading to pilot Captain David Taylor having to take evasive action as the lights connected with the cockpit.
PC Glyn Roberts also witnessed the scene from above and became aware of the green light in his peripheral vision.
He told the court the ongoing issue with the laser beam was a distraction from the job he had been sent out for.
PC Gareth Jaggard filmed the scene from the helicopter and the thermal imaging footage was played to the court.
“Just as we arrived in Wrexham I saw a flash of green light which I believed to be a laser pen,” he said.
Questioned by Alun Williams, defending, he admitted the footage did not clearly indicate who had aimed the laser pen.
Mr Williams said there was no evidence confirming who fired the pen and he did not believe Griffiths had deliberately aimed it at the helicopter.
Griffiths, who had been with a group of young adults, told the court:. “I heard the noise of the helicopter but I didn’t know where it was.
“I could only hear it, so I thought it was quite a long way away.”
Asked if there was any chance he had aimed to connect with the helicopter, Griffiths said there was “no chance at all”.
Arrested a short time after the incident, he said he had been shining the laser against a wall. Magistrates chairman Vicky Marsh said the bench was sure it was Griffiths who shone the pen at the helicopter.
“I hope you have learned from this lesson that they are not things to play around with,” she told him.
He was fined £100 with £150 costs and a £15 victim surcharge and the offending pen was ordered to be destroyed.
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