Bristol man spared jail after shining laser at helicopter

A man who shone a laser pen at a police helicopter has avoided going to prison "by a whisker", a judge has said.

Stuart Bowering, 31, from Bristol, said he had been using the laser pen to wear out his dogs on a walk last December and had not realised its power.

The father-of-five, from Hawkfield Road, Hartcliffe, pleaded guilty to recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft.

He told Bristol Crown Court he had not meant to direct it at the helicopter.

'Flung it up'

"I heard it, but I didn't realise it was that close," said the self-employed builder.

"I was moving the pen in a figure of eight on the ground and then flung it up in the air to confuse the dogs."

The court heard that his actions had almost caused the helicopter to move into Bristol Airport's airspace which could have disrupted a flight that was coming in to land.

Pilot Paul Maddox said the laser had put "temporary black spots" in his vision.

Bowering was given a 12-month community order, a three-month curfew between 21:00 BST and 06:30 BST and told to repay the £200 court costs.

The judge, Recorder Harry Martineau, said: "People who attempt to target helicopters in this stupid and idiotic way should expect to go to prison.

"It is only by a whisker that I find you did not do this on purpose. I should have sent you to prison but as it is, I didn't.

"It is clear you need some help thinking through the consequences of your actions."

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