Man who shone laser at Police helicopter “lucky to escape jail”

A man who shone a laser at a police helicopter was told his action could have had ‘catastrophic consequences’.

28 year old Jagpal Irwin of 22, Ard Na Smoll, Dungiven admitted the offence which occurred on January 30.

The court was told that at 10.30 that night, police were on an operation in Dungiven.

A defence barrister said Irwin did not realise the consequences of his actions, saying it was ‘sheer stupidity and ignorance’ and that there was no malicious intent.

The court was told that when the helicopter crew informed officers on the ground that a laser was being shone at them, police were able to identify where the laser was coming from and found Irwin and another man.

Irwin handed over a laser and told police he didn’t know it was illegal.

District Judge Paul Copeland said that Irwin was fortunate that the way the charge had been brought meant he did not face a custodial sentence.

He said it was a very serious matter that could have had ‘catastrophic consequences’ for the pilot, passengers and people on the ground.

The judge said that the pilot in this case said the effect had been ‘intensely dazzling’ and he said that Irwin had deliberately targeted the helicopter.

Judge Copeland said the courts would take a severe view of anyone who engaged in this sort of ‘reckless and criminal conduct’. Irwin was fined £750.