A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
Woodcroft, South Australia
A South Australia Police helicopter checking on COVID compliance during a three-day lockdown was hit seven times by a blue laser on November 20, 2020. There was no injury to the crew but one officer was dazzled temporarily by the beam.
Two frames from the South Australia Police helicopter. In the first frame the laser beam is aimed to the left of the camera. In the second frame the beam is aimed directly at the camera lens. The human eye would have a similar effect, first seeing the beam then being dazzled and flashblinded by the bright direct light.
The perpetrator was found to be Mark Andrew Golka, 49, who lived in the Adelaide suburb of Woodcroft. He was said to have been drinking alcohol and taking prescription pain medication when he aimed the laser. At sentencing, the judge told Golka "…that is no excuse to having committed these offences."
Golka was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended. He signed a two-year good behavior bond, will be supervised for 18 months, and will perform 80 hours of community service.
After the sentencing, his lawyer said Golka was sorry for what he had done.
From ABC News. The page includes a video of the laser illumination, from which the two frames above were taken.
Burringham, North Lincolnshire, UK
Cheeseman was convicted after a "sustained laser attack" on a National Air Police Helicopter flying over Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire on April 11 2020.
The helicopter crew directed Humberside Police to a location where Cheeseman was arrested. He pleaded not guilty in December 2020. In early March 2021, Cheeseman was given a 12 month sentence, suspended four months. He was convicted of shining a laser beam towards a person providing air services, causing the laser beam to dazzle or distract that person.
From GrimsbyLive. Although the story says the sentence was 12 months with four months suspended, the headline states "Man avoids prison…" The apparent discrepancy may be due to factors of British law or judicial terms.
Blackdown Close, East Finchley, London, UK
On March 10 2017, Chung Ching Wan was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for two years, given a six month curfew under electronic tag, and ordered to pay prosecution costs and £115 victim surcharge. In addition, the laser pen he used plus three other “powerful” laser pens were ordered destroyed.
His punishment came after a January 12 2017 incident where a National Police Air Service helicopter was illuminated by green laser light several times. A crew member momentarily lost vision; the pilot changed the helicopter’s direction to avoid the beam. Ground officers were directed to a location where Chung Ching Wan was arrested. He told officers he was an accountant making £45,000 (USD $60,000) per year and said “It’s really silly what I have done.”
On January 31 2017 he pleaded guilty to recklessly and negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or person in an aircraft.
From the Mirror and Police Oracle
Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, UK
On March 27 2015, a Humberside police helicopter was illuminated by laser light. On August 3 2015, Brown admitted the offense of shining a light so as to distract or dazzle a pilot.
Brown was sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge, and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £15 and costs of £85 by North Lincolnshire magistrates.
Evanston, South Australia
In September 2013, Stewart repeatedly aimed a laser pen at a police helicopter.
The pilot had been using night vision goggles. He had "minor discomfort and sensitivity to light" for the next two days.
In court on July 2 2015, Stewart's lawyer said he was inebriated at the time and was playing with the laser which he had purchased online for less than AUS $10. The lawyer called Stewart's actions "inebriated stupidity."
The judge called Stewart's actions "drunken, dumb and dangerous."
Stewart pleaded guilty to prejudicing the safe operation of an aircraft and using a prohibited weapon — the laser.
He was sentenced to two years and four months, suspended in favor of a $500, two-year good behavior bond.
From ABC News
Hubbard, Ohio, US
Vecchiarelli was sentenced on October 2 2014 to probation for five years, has to do 200 hours of community service, must write an apology to his victims, has to pay a $1,000 fine, has an 11 pm curfew, and must stay out of liquor establishments. If he violates his probation, he could go to prison for eight years.
Vecchiarelli was arrested for aiming a laser at a news helicopter that was filming an October 11 2013 football game at Hubbard (Ohio) High School. The cameraman told police the laser light entered his eyes. He was able to direct police to the laser location, about 1 mile southeast of the stadium.
On March 19 2014, Hoskins was sentenced to five months in jail, suspended for two years, plus he must do 200 hours of community service within 12 months. On January 20 2014, Hoskins aimed a laser pen at a National Police Air Service helicopter, to see if the beam could reach the aircraft. He said the lasing was “stupid” and was not done deliberately.
Wales: Suspended 5-month sentence, 200 hours community service, £165 fine for lasing helicopter 10 times
Greenfield, Flintshire, Wales, UK
On September 25 2013, Griffiths repeatedly aimed a green laser at a North Wales Police helicopter that was trying to locate a missing person. He hit the aircraft about 10 times over an eight-minute period. At trial Griffiths admitted a charge of recklessly endangering an aircraft or persons inside. On January 9, 2014 he was given a five-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work, and was fined £165 in costs.
On April 10 2013, Waistle was given a six-month suspended sentence and 150 hours of unpaid work, for aiming a laser pen at a Cleveland Police helicopter. Leaving the courtroom, Waistle put two fingers up (photo above) which the Daily Star wrote was “defiant”.
In February 2010, a 21-year-old repeatedly aimed a laser at a police helicopter. He could have received 90 days in jail. Instead, he was convicted of "aviation sabotage" and received a suspended sentence with community service, in June 2011.