53-year-old Nicholas Hawkins of Heathfield Road in Bembridge is to appear before the Isle of Wight Magistrates Court tomorrow (Friday) charged with directing or shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle or distract the pilot.
On the evening of 26th March this year, the National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter from Bournemouth was conducting an aerial search for a missing person in Brading. According to Police at the time of the incident, it was during this search that a ‘laser’ was shone at the pilot of the aircraft. However, Police now say that ‘a light source’ was shone at the helicopter.
Following an investigation by Hampshire Constabulary Mr Hawkins has been charged with 1 offence – direct or shine light at aircraft in flight so as to dazzle or distract pilot – contrary to articles 225 and 265(6) of the Air Navigation Order 2016.
Mr Hawkins will appear before Magistrates in Newport tomorrow morning.
UPDATE FRIDAY – Mr Hawkins pleaded not guilty to the single charge against him and elected for a trial, with a provisional date of 15th August.
It is alleged he shone a high powered LED torch at the aircraft, although Police originally believed it was a laser.