A police helicopter crew were put in danger by two men playing around with a laser pen, a court heard.
During a cigarette break while working a night shift, Welder Sean Skipworth, 46, of Martin Street, Beverley and colleague Carl Southern, 31, of Mayfield Road Bridlington, began shining it at things in the darkness for a prank, Beverley Magistrates’ Court heard.
Prosecuting, Colette Dixon said they deliberately, and for a prolonged period, directed the green laser light at a police helicopter causing the pilot to become “distracted, dazzled and disorientated,”
She said the two-man helicopter crew had been out searching for three suspects over Carnaby Industrial Estate but as a result of the laser light the search had to be abandoned.
She said: “The effect caused the pilot to lose his night vision and made it very difficult for him to maintain safe flying.”
The court heard that the crew guided police officers on the ground to the spot were the laser light was coming from, and the men were visited at their place of work. In interview both were remorseful and each admitted shining the pen at the helicopter but said they had no idea of the powerful effects it could have.
Defending Skipworth, Stephen Munro said: “This started off as a bit of a prank. He was testing it out and it was suggested he tried to shine it on something.
“He realises how stupid he has been and that he endangered the aircraft and its crew.”
The pair each pleaded guilty to the charge of directing or shining a light at an aircraft so as to dazzle or distract the pilot.
They were each given a 12-month conditional discharge with £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
Chairman of the bench Mrs Lesley Wood told them: “This was no prank. The pilot could have had trouble for life with his vision and that could have affected his job and his family.”
Following the hearing, Skipworth warned people of the dangers of laser pens. He said: “They’re just like guns. They can be lethal if they fall into the wrong hands.” Welder Sean Skipworth, 46, of Martin Street, Beverley, had bought the laser pen from eBay in order to use it as a sight for his air rifle.