Page last updated at 18:19 GMT, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 19:19 UK

No charges in torch shining case

A man who was arrested after he shone a torch at an Apache attack helicopter flying "10ft" above his garden will not be charged, police have said.

Torben Merriott, 63, of Stradbroke, Suffolk, was arrested on "suspicion of "acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft" on 18 September.

Police said Mr Merriott had been released from his bail conditions and no further action would be taken.

Mr Merriott said the experience had been "demeaning and humiliating".

Mr Merriott, who runs a stage lighting firm, criticised police for being "heavy-handed" and "wasting resources". He said he might complain.

'Felt vibrations'

He said he was awoken by an "almighty noise and vibration" at 0100 BST on 18 September.

"My first reaction was that it was an earthquake," he said.

"It was a clear night but pitch black and I could feel the vibrations beating against my chest - very frightening.

"That was when I realised it must be a helicopter really low and very close. I couldn't see any navigation lights from the direction of the noise so I shone my torch."

Mr Merriott said he found it hard to be believe the pilot would have lost control in the face of his torch.

"Don't tell the Taliban that all they need is a 10-quid torch to bring down some of our finest young fliers in their multi-million pound, high-tech gunships," he said.

The Ministry of Defence said the shining of any kind of light at a helicopter was dangerous because pilots could be dazzled.



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