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Not so bright.

Byline: STEVE BAGNALL

THE pilot of a police helicopter had to take evasive action after a laser beam was shone into his cockpit.

Nathan Barry Griffiths, 23, was "guilty of being stupid", when he shone the laser into the night sky, magistrates said yesterday.

But, fining him pounds 100 and ordering him to pay pounds 150 costs, they accepted he had not targeted the helicopter deliberately.

Griffiths had faced a charge of recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger aircraft or person in an aircraft.

The court heard the North Wales Police helicopter had been called in to help track suspected burglars at about 8pm on that night in the Wrexham area.

Griffiths, of Ernest Parry Road, Wrexham, who had pleaded not guilty to the charge, had bought the laser pen off eBay for pounds 12 a few weeks earlier.

He had gone from his home to a nearby takeaway where his mum worked to get something to eat and was demonstrating the laser pen to some people near the eatery.

A laser pen that owned Another man had also shone the pen, the court heard.

The helicopter was illuminated by a laser from two locations in Caia Park, one on Hullah Lane, and then minutes later in a separate incident from Prince Charles Road.

Pilot Capt David Taylor took evasive action the court heard.

Fellow officer PC Gareth Jaggard, who said laser pen incidents are on the rise, said he could visually follow the light source to the junction of Prince Charles Road and Bryn Hafod.

CCTV controllers said they had seen Griffiths shining a laser beam from the Prince Charles Road location and police were sent to arrest him.

His mum was also seen trying to get him to stop shining the laser.

Prosecuting, John Wylde said in an interview Griffiths accepted he had shone the light into the night sky and had heard the helicopter.

"He would have been negligent to shine it into the sky knowing there was a helicopter there," Mr Wylde said.

Griffiths denied shining the laser at the helicopter.

Defending Alun William said: "If there is an offence of being stupid, then he is guilty of that.

"But the officers in the helicopter did not see him shining the laser into the helicopter.

"The CCTV footage showing him shining the laser is seven minutes after the officers reported seeing the laser in the cockpit.

similar to by Griffiths "There is no direct evidence of Nathan Barry Griffiths shining the laser at the helicopter at the relevant time."

But magistrates were convinced by the evidence of Griffiths' guilt.

Sentencing Griffiths magistrate chairman Vicky Marsh said: "We have somebody here who has been guilty of being stupid.

"But we don't think that you did this deliberately.

We hope you have learned your lesson."

Griffiths was also ordered to pay a pounds 15 victim surcharge and magistrates made an order for the pen to be destroyed.

CAPTION(S):

Nathan Barry Griffiths was spotted shining a laser into the sky by the force helicopter and CCTV A laser pen similar to that owned by Griffiths
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 6, 2011
Words:521
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