Police ‘copter target for laser pen ‘idiot’

Richard Oliver, branded a dangerous idiot by a judge for shining a laserpen at a police helicopter.
Richard Oliver, branded a dangerous idiot by a judge for shining a laserpen at a police helicopter.

A LASER pen pest has been jailed after he was caught shining a green pointer at a police helicopter.

Richard Oliver, 23, acted like a ‘dangerous idiot’, repeatedly targeting a Northumbria Police helicopter as he stood in his front garden.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that the pilot became so distracted as he was dazzled that he was forced to divert from his route.

Police officers were immediately directed to St Vincent Street, South Shields, where they found Oliver standing in his front garden holding a laser pen.

Prosecutor Simon Worthy said: “They asked him if he had been shining a pen, and he replied: ‘Aye, I have been shining my laser pen’.”

“He then handed the pen over to them.”

Oliver, a father-of-three, pleaded guilty to shining a light at an aircraft in flight as to dazzle or distract the pilot.

He was jailed for 12 months in total – six months for the laser offence plus an extra six months for a previous suspended sentence.

In October last year, he was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court after admitting attempted theft and handling stolen goods after copper cable was stolen from the Metro system in Sunderland. At that time, he was sentenced to 36 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 200 hours’ unpaid work.

Judge Guy Whitburn said yesterday he agreed with the judge in a previous case who had branded similar offenders ‘dangerous idiots’.

He told Oliver: “You distracted the police helicopter pilot by pointing a green laser pointer at him.

“You did so for a considerable amount of time.

“You were repeatedly shining this green pen.

“Why choose a police helicopter? Why not choose a building of some distance away?

“I can only conclude you were deliberately trying to distract the helicopter pilot.

“The cost of what you did could have been catastrophic.

“Fortunately, the helicopter pilot was able to take evasive action.”

David Comb, defending, said: “It is an act of nothing more or less than criminal stupidity.

“He got out to entertain himself in what was a mindless way, and then he co-operated with the police.”