Page last updated at 16:33 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 17:33 UK

Boy sentenced for dazzling pilot


The pilot managed to guide the helicopter away safely

A youth of 17 has been spared a custodial sentence for shining a laser light at a police helicopter as it flew over Birmingham.

The boy, from Saltley, had pleaded guilty to endangering an aircraft at an earlier hearing.

Birmingham Youth Court heard an intense green light was shone into the cockpit as the helicopter hovered over Alum Rock on 7 March.

The boy apologised for his actions and was given a 12-month referral order.

Referral orders are generally given for first offences and entail the offender agreeing to a good behaviour contract.

The worst scenario is that I would have been temporarily blinded
Capt Nicholas Clarkson

The court heard the pilot managed to take action to avoid the beam.

Capt Nicholas Clarkson, of West Midlands Police, who was piloting the helicopter said in a statement that the intense light appeared in the cockpit without warning.

"The worst scenario is that I would have been temporarily blinded. This could ultimately lead to loss of control of the aircraft," he said.

Prosecutor John Walsh said the boy had not thought of the consequences.

"He said he didn't realise (the laser) would reach the helicopter," said Mr Walsh.

District Judge Jan Jellema said the boy only avoided a custodial sentence because of his age and early guilty plea.

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