Christopher Paton jailed over laser pen attack on police helicopter

A man has been jailed for shining a laser pen at a police helicopter which was searching for missing children.

Christopher Paton, 22, shone the laser pen at the aircraft as it searched for two four-year-olds in Toryglen, Glasgow, in September 2009.

The helicopter was forced to change route to finish the search, before tracing Paton in his garden.

At Glasgow Sheriff Court, Paton was jailed for nine months after admitting endangering the helicopter.

The court heard that PCs Anthony Collins and Kevin Brown and pilot Craig Trott had been on board a Strathclyde Police helicopter carrying out a search for the two children.

Flight path

At about 20:45, they experienced a high-powered green laser being directed at the helicopter.

Procurator fiscal depute Mark Allan, prosecuting, said: "The light was sufficient to brightly illuminate the inside of the aircraft and cause those on board to lower their visors to prevent being dazzled by the laser.

"The search efforts of the crew were as a result hampered by the adjustments which required to be made by the pilot to their flight path."

The court was told that the CCTV camera on the helicopter recorded the green laser beam as coming from Paton's house in Castlemilk. It filmed the laser and the people in the back garden of the house.

Mr Allan added: "The helicopter was targeted by the laser numerous times over a period of approximately 10 minutes."

'Full confession'

After the search, officers on plain clothes patrol in an unmarked police car were told about the incident and directed to Paton's house.

They went into the back garden and were met by Paton, who admitted he had used the laser.

During a police interview he made a "full, frank and apologetic confession". He was then arrested and charged.

Mr Allan said the laser pen had been 10 times as powerful as any other laser tested by the scientists before.

"The output of the laser pen, at 40 milliwatts, is 40 times more powerful than a standard laser pointer," he said.

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