East Finchley man sentenced for shining a laser at helicopter, which could have been ‘catastrophic’

Sentenced: Limshin Chung Ching Wan. Photo: Met Police

Sentenced: Limshin Chung Ching Wan. Photo: Met Police - Credit: Archant

A man who deliberately shone a laser pen at a National Police Air Service helicopter, causing a crew member to momentarily lose their vision, has been sentenced in court.

Limshin Chung Ching Wan, 42, of Blackdown Close pleaded guilty to recklessly and negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft at Hendon Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, 31 January.

He was sentenced at Harrow Crown Court on Thursday to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years, told he must observe a curfew and ordered to pay court costs of £300.

Police were called to an address in Blackdown Close on January 12 after a National Police Air Service Helicopter was targeted with a green laser light several times, causing a crew member to momentarily lose their vision.

The aircraft was repositioned to protect the pilot.

Local officers from Barnet’s Response Team rushed to Chung Ching Wan’s East Finchley address.

Chung Ching Wan was questioned about the laser being shone out of the window and he initially denied having any laser pens.

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However, when the seriousness of the offence was explained, Chung Ching Wan produced a laser pen.

Officers arrested Chung Ching Wan and seized a total of four high powered laser pens.

Chung Ching Wan shone the laser at the aircraft numerous times and opened the window to shine the laser out and up at the aircraft.

Sergeant Jamie Kay from Barnet said: “My officers work closely with the National Police Air Service following any laser attack, providing a fast response using sophisticated mapping technology to surround and search any address containing offenders.

“Shining a laser at an aircraft is incredibly dangerous.

“The helicopter was over a built-up area and this had the potential to lead to catastrophic results both for the occupants of the helicopter and wholly innocent members of the public below who were probably sleeping in their beds.

“Lasers are not toys and they should be handled responsibly.”

Ollie Dismore, director of flight operations for the National Police Air Service said: “Laser misuse, such as this, is a 21st Century threat not just to aviation but the wider travelling public and it is a positive step to see this reflected in sentencing in this way.

“NPAS and the police forces it serves take this offence very seriously and will continue to pursue prosecutions against its own aircraft, as well as supporting airlines and airports in protecting those travelling by air.”

It is an offence to shine lasers at pilots and offenders could face fines of up to £2,500 and, or, up to five years in prison.

Those shining lasers at pilots, train or bus drivers could soon face fines of thousands of pounds or a jail sentence under stronger new powers announced by Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, in February.

Mr Grayling said: “Shining a laser pointer at pilots or drivers is incredibly dangerous and could have fatal consequences.

“While we know laser pens can be fun and many users have good intentions, some are not aware of the risks of dazzling drivers or pilots putting public safety at risk.

“That’s why we want to take the common sense approach to strengthen our laws to protect the public from those who are unaware of the dangers or even worse, intentionally want to cause harm. This kind of dangerous behaviour risks lives and must be stopped.

“There are around 1,500 laser attacks on aircraft every year in the UK and we know there have been similar attacks on trains and buses. “What I am announcing today February 5 are plans to give the police effective powers to investigate and bring those who misuse lasers to justice.”