Page last updated at 13:16 GMT, Monday, 26 October 2009

'Sorry' for helicopter laser beam

Dennis, Captain James Grenfell and Pc Mark Chamberlain
Dennis meets the crew of the helicopter at St Athan

A teenager who endangered the lives of a police helicopter crew by shining a laser pen at the aircraft has apologised in person to them.

Dennis, 17, from Caerphilly county, was later tracked down by the police by using the video equipment onboard the helicopter he had targeted in July.

He visited RAF St Athan to meet the crew and say sorry as part of a restorative justice programme.

The pilot, Captain James Grenfell, said he fully accepted the apology.

The meeting was organised by Caerphilly's Youth Offending Service to show Dennis the implications of his actions.

During the visit, he was shown around the Eurocopter craft used by both South Wales Police and Gwent Police.

Two of the aircrew, Pc Mark Chamberlain and Captain Grenfell, explained the impact Dennis' behaviour had on their safety and the potentially tragic consequences of his actions.

He offered his apologies to the crew for the incident.

'Not malicious'

Captain Grenfell said following the meeting: "From our meeting, Dennis has learned how dangerous this type of incident can be, and I hope that others will understand the same lesson.

"After speaking to him, I felt that it was not done maliciously and I fully accept his apology."

The youth offending service said the aim of such meetings was to provide an offender with the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions and acknowledge the consequences without humiliating them.

Caerphilly cabinet member for the environment, Lyn Ackerman, said: "Restorative justice meetings such as this one can be very positive experiences for all concerned.

"They really can help reduce stress and fear among victims, and can also be very effective in helping to motivate young offenders to turn away from a life of crime."

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