Martock man Andrew Wilson jailed for shining lasers at aircraft over Yeovil

SOMERSET man Andrew Wilson has been jailed after admitting to shining lasers at an aircraft.

The 53-year-old, of Martock, was sentenced to four months imprisonment at Taunton Crown Court on Thursday, April 11.

At an earlier hearing he had admitted two counts of directing a laser beam at an aircraft, an offence under the Laser Misuse Act 2018.

On the first occasion, at about 11.20pm on Thursday, August 3, 2022, he targeted a helicopter flying over Yeovil.

The second incident, at about 11.55pm on Monday, August 14, involved an Airbus A320 passenger plane flying over Yeovil on its descent to Bristol Airport, with almost 200 people on board.

Both aircraft were able to make a safe landing, the court was told.

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One of the plane pilots stated in a personal statement read to the court that the laser attack happened during a “critical stage” of the flight.

“You can see how distractions and disturbances from laser attacks are dangerous while the pilots are required to be totally focused,” they said.

“Laser attacks on aircraft also have the ability to temporarily ‘flash blind’.

“Rendering one or both pilots blind while they are flying is obviously extremely dangerous.”

They added such laser attacks can lead to retina damage and long-term degradation of eyesight which could cost a pilot their career, in view of the strict medical requirements for a pilot’s licence.

Officer in the case, Avon and Somerset PC Jason Marshalsea, said: “Shining a laser beam at an aircraft is dangerous and irresponsible and could result in catastrophic consequences.

“Wilson not only jeopardised the eyesight of several pilots, but he also unnecessarily and recklessly endangered the lives of hundreds of innocent people on those aircraft.”

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I am the editor in chief of Blackmore Vale media, which includes the New Blackmore Vale, New Stour & Avon, Salisbury & Avon Gazette and the Purbeck Gazette, having been a reporter for some 20 years. In my spare time, I am a festival lover, with a particular focus on Glastonbury. I live in Somerset with my wife and two children.