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Canada: Calgary man gets house arrest in 2010 helicopter lasing case

A Calgary man was sentenced on June 18 2012 to two months house arrest, four months with a 10 pm to 5 am curfew and six months of probation, all resulting from an 2010 laser illumination of a Calgary police helicopter. In addition, Jason John McConnell, 35, will perform 25 hours of community service, will receive counseling, and is not permitted to possess a laser pointer.
During the August 16 2010 illumination, the aircrew broke off their mission to find the laser source. The pilot donned protective eyewear and asked ground crews to search for him. Within half an hour, a laser was spotted coming from an upper window. McConnell was then arrested. The three aircrew members were grounded until doctors determined there was no damage to their eyes from the laser exposure. During the incident, one runway at Calgary International Airport was closed down, which did not affect air traffic.

McConnell had been previously been convicted in 2009 under the Traffic Safety Act of pointing a laser at a police car.

For the 2010 helicopter incident, McConnell pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of mischief causing damage to property, and to projecting a bright light at an aircraft to cause a hazard under the Aeronautics Act. Both McConnell’s lawyer and the crown prosecutor agreed that the sentencing conditions were an adequate punishment.

According to his lawyer, McConnell did not realize the seriousness of aiming a laser at an aircraft. He said the incident was due to “basically stupid curiosity.”

The judge said that “This is not a joke, a ha-ha thing, ‘look what I did!’. This is a criminal act.”

From the Calgary Sun and Calgary Herald.