Jail threat to man who shone laser pen at West Yorkshire Police helicopter

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A man shone a laser pen at the West Yorkshire Police helicopter as it was helping to investigate a break-in at a school.

Christopher Grayston was handed a suspended prison sentence yesterday over the incident in the Lupset area of Wakefield on September 8 this year.

Leeds Crown Court heard Grayston, 31, shone the pen into the cockpit of the helicopter as it hovered above Snapethorpe primary school following reports of intruders at the school.

Shamaila Qureshi, prosecuting, said an officer called to the scene asked for the force helicopter to do a search of the area.

As it was doing so a green laser was shone at the aircraft which distracted the pilot.

Thermal imaging and mapping equipment on board the helicopter was then used to identify where the light was coming from. They managed to establish that it was coming from a doorway of a house on nearby Lindsay Avenue.

The officer on the ground went to the address and questioned Grayston about the incident.

Grayston then showed the officer the laser pen which had a sticker on it marked ‘danger’.

The father-of-two was arrested and later admitted that his actions were reckless. He said he shone the pen at the aircraft as it was flying away from the area.

He added that he had shone the pen after having a conversation with his brother and didn’t realise the pen was strong enough to reach the aircraft.

Grayston pleaded guilty to recklessly acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft.

Emma Radley, mitigating, said the incident did not place the pilot in danger although it did distract him as he was flying the helicopter.

She said the helicopter had helped to identify two suspects on the school and was heading back to base when Grayston shone the pen.

Miss Radley said Grayston had bought the pen for the family dog to play with as it liked to chase after the laser. She added that he had fully complied with the police and had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Judge James Spencer QC gave Grayston a six-month sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered him to do 100 hours unpaid work.

He said: “You and others must know that this kind of offending will not be tolerated.”

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