back to article Judge points laser dazzler man towards prison

A 21-year old man was yesterday sentenced to four months in prison for shining a laser pointer at a police helicopter. Dean Bottomley of Stockport, Greater Manchester had already pleaded guilty to endangering an aircraft. The helicopter pilot said the £30 laser pen made him temporarily blind and unable to see instruments …


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  1. Alistair
    Black Helicopters

    I have a problem with authority

    Helicopter pilot lies about effects of laser pointer, 21 year old man goes to prison for four months.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Pork-chopper, surely!

  3. Michael McLean

    FLooded with light?

    A Laser pen flooding a cockpit woth light...A LASER PEN!!!!!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    We're all doomed!

    Prepare the tat-markets for a sudden influx of terrorists... they be coming to arm themselves with laser pens!

    Is this really a legitimate threat, or are the pilots just making the most of the phrase "Frikken Lazorz"?

    On the plus side, we don't have to fear those black helicopters anymore!

  5. Chris
    Black Helicopters

    RE: "plodcopter"?

    I thought they were dubbed "whirly-plods" a while back?

  6. Andre Carneiro

    Flooded with light?

    They employ drama queens to be police helicopter pilots now?

    "Oh! The Pain! The absolute AGONY! It was flooded with light! FLOODED, I tell you!"

    For f****'s sake this is getting way past ridiculous....

    Mine's the one with the 1.000.000 lumen laser pointer in the pocket.

  7. Ralphe Neill



  8. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Laser Pens

    If laser pens are that good at disabling a helicopter, there must be loads of criminals lining up to buy one ready for their next "job".

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Steven Raith

    Alistair/Michael McLean

    Go wang a laserpen through a mutli-layer laminate bonded piece of curved glass, and see the pretty spangly patterns it gives off.

    Now try and do that in a darkened room, and see if you can see through said glass when the laserlight refracts and diffuses through it.

    Now put that darkened room several hundred feet in the air, weighing several tons, and ability to keep it there relys on two sticks, a pair of pedals and your ability to see through the glass and concentrate on one of a couple of dozen instrument readouts. Which are currently getting the disco light treatment thanks to aforemented diffusion and refraction.

    Hope that helps - although I do think four months is perhaps a bit stiff, but without knowing the chaps previous record, it's tricky to make any kind of judgement on it.

    *yes, I know, electronic flight aids etc, point remains.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If, by some miracle, the laser went into the pilots eye then yes (a fast movng target 100's-1000's of metres away!!) it could have affected his vision for a few seconds. But, as its a helichopter and up in the air, the chances of hitting something in those few seconds are pretty slim, unless the pilot was doing somthing inherantly dangerous at that time.

    As for flooded the cockpit with light, its a laser pen not the deathstar!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    @ Douchebags


    The pen he used had a power of 100mW, compared with the legal maximum of 5mW, the only reason it's referred a laser 'pen' is because it comes in a rather large, cylindrical housing. It was NOT a laser pointer.

    Allegedly this thing has a range of five miles (bearing in mind the furtherst you can 'see' at sea level is about six miles, due to the curvarture of the earth), I for one don't think the pilot, plod or the judge over-reacted here. I'd rather not have whirlybird pilots temporarily blinded when they're flying over built-up areas...

  13. Sebastian Brosig


    the boy was only caught because he had the audacity to laser the plod _from his bedroom_ so that he could be found later!

  14. Stephane Mabille

    Laser pen


    I was RAFL with the "I have been blinded" by a laser pen too... sounds a bit like I have been eaten alive by a fly or he stabbed me 25 times with a straw and I was left dead on the pavement.....

    But apparently googling "high power laser pen" gives you chilling returns.

    Any laser above 5mW is class IIIb, meaning that direct exposure of 1/100 of a sec gives permanent eye damage, specular reflection beeing hasardous too.

    So a 30mW pointing at the helicopter could indeed have blinded the pilot temporarily (and even permanently if unlucky).

    You can easily find 30mW for £50 and it gives you a 10 miles range, and 250mW (or even 500mW are easily available too) for a few hundreds pounds.

    I let the paranoid in charge think about the potential damage of anyone having one near Heathrow, or London...

    So anyone found with a LED keyring in the tube will now be shot instantly (you are never too prudent with all those terrorists around us).

  15. Anonymous Coward


    Couldnt have been that good, they nailed his ass.

  16. Martin

    So what is an appropriate sentence?

    So most of you here think that four months is unreasonable.

    Let's think about this. A guy points a laser at a helicopter flying by. If he didn't think it was going to have any effect, why do it? And if he HAD succeeded in dazzling the helicopter pilot, the consequences could have been appalling.

    Even if we accept that what he was trying to do could never work, that doesn't actually take away the intention.

    Suppose someone throws a stone onto a car off a motorway bridge? Chances are it won't do any damage - windscreens these days are pretty tough - but it doesn't mean that the perpetrator shouldn't go to prison when you consider what the effect could be.

    If he'd been a kid, then yes, kids do stupid things; you accept that. But he's not a kid. He's twenty one. He should know better, and he deserves to go to prison.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: flooded with light

    That's not so far fetched. A typical green laser pen is not well collimated and the beam will diverge. The resultant impact on the helicopter could easily be a blob of light around 8-12 inches in diameter, still containing the full output from the laser (minus scattering on the way, which is not a great loss). That light is green and highly disruptive to night vision. It will be reflecting off the cockpit interior, and if the pilot cops it full in the eye that's his night adjusted vision gone for a short while. That aside, 4 months is very steep in my opinion.

  18. adnim


    One could understand shining a laser at a flying pig to avoid capture whilst on the run. But just for a lark, "to see if it would reach". And from home, his bedroom in fact. What a retard.

    Still 4 months is a steep sentence, and just what kind of education is this lad going to get inside?

  19. Steen Hive
    Black Helicopters

    The Mujahideen

    Must be kicking themselves after wasting all those years and expensive repurposed RPG weapons when all the time they could've been using the much more efficient anti-aircraft DEATH RAY.

  20. Christian Cook

    Here's what it looks like

    I hate the authorities going overboard as much as anyone, but in this case they do have a point... a green one:

    If I was trying to fly a helicopter and kept getting that in the face then I might feel a little cheesed off.

  21. Karim Bourouba

    good aim mind

    given the distance the copter must have been from this chap, and that the thing isnt made of plastic/glass.

    I would assume that tests and/or an investigation took place to see if this was feasible or not, but surely cockpits and visors are designed to cope with glare like this? Or not?

  22. Mike

    Surveillance Defence

    If you are fed up being tracked by CCTV, these pens cause havoc for CCTV cams. But be prepared for the Government Storm Troopers to send out the brigade to put you away after tasering you. The Police state won't like the fact that people are starting too counter act the Big Brother State and that their toys are vulnerable to all sorts of attack, i.e. Laser Pens, High Powered Video Band Modulators that wipe out baseband video in an instant. Next these terrorists (Kids) will be blocking the Video downlink frequencies from Pold in the sky.

    Extreme meausures employ exteme counter measures. If plod hasn't learned that by now, they never will. Too much is exposed on TV nowadays for people to act and defeat Hi Tec gadgets and equipment. Our media is our own worse enemy.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @AC "We're All Doomed"

    You still have to fear the black helos as they're the ones piloted by the human/Grey hybrids, who are immune to this.

  24. Andrew Culpeck
    Thumb Down

    Blinded but not for long

    Is it me or is this a stupid idear to prosicute this person.

    I for one can see the publicaty this has created making parts of London a no fly zone, as everyone starts trying to blind police poilots.

    Then there is the very real prospect that poice cars will become the next target, or even police on foot.

  25. Matt


    Come on El Reg, what kind of device are we talking about here? If it was what most people would call a laser pointer then the whole case is BS. If it was a high power one then he "had it coming".

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    insert text here

    I vote for "Heliplod".

  27. Mark

    @Steven Raith

    Well, what about the blinding light from the chopper's light?

    What about the debilitating pain from a tazer?

    Or are only the police allowed to avail themselves of protection for a boo boo?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Without defending this guy's stupidity...

    ... I have to say I have sometimes felt like doing the same.

    We live under flightpaths from RAF Odiham, so have to put up with lots of noise/vibration from Chinooks and other choppers almost every day.

    But forget them; it's the police ones that seem to visit at least a couple of times a week in the small hours of the morning that are the seriously annoying ones. Whiny engines, circling around for ages for no obvious reason. It's almost like they need to operate them to justify their mere existence...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    star wars phantom menace

    They use them to comminucate before attacking the palace of theed.

    Did't see natalie portman going

    "My eyes.... My beautiful eyes.... ooooohhh the horror." 'Queue the drama'

    Given the spotlight can melt tarmac if lit on the ground I think we should be able to caution drama queen pilots for flying too low over towns and being really annoying by hovering at 11pm over my house because some joy riders are in the neighbourhood. Shining that thing through my attic window and blinding me while I sleep.

  30. HKUSP45


    And from what was the proto-Jedi "protecting" himself? No, the "blinding...chopper's light" in the discharge of official duties and a pranking shot of fairly high-powered laser "pen" are not morally or practically equivalent.


  31. Robajob


    I see. So presumably the "extreme meausures" of bombing the shit out of a large part of the Middle East "employs" the extreme counter-measures of blowing people up everywhere else in the world. The fact that you apparently can't tell the difference between disabling a CCTV camera and (potentially) causing a helicopter to crash in an urban area makes me think that your spelling and grammar aren't the only indicators of your intellectual level.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hits 2 birds with 1 stone

    This guy has done well:

    1. Gets himself a nice Cisco accreditation, without causing GBH

    2. Inspires Mike Myers to do Austin Powers 4, as I'm sure he'll love another anonymous coward's "Frikken Lazorz" line.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...the first casualty of the resistance ?

    What you guys going on November 5th ?

    All got your masks and capes ready ?

  34. Andy G

    But where is . .

    The Playmobil snapshot. I think we REALLY need to see this

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    re. The Mujahideen

    In this case the pilot has no real ability to retalliate; in the Afghan war, the Russians would probably have replied with the Hind's 23mm cannon or S8 rockets (fire at the light source Sergei!).

    As far as hitting a helicopter with a laser, it's not that hard given that they move relatively slowly (angular movement apparent to a fixed observer on the ground); laser weapons for permanently blinding a target are banned under the Geneva Conventions (1995 Protocol IV on Blinding Laser Weapons), so I'd expect a jail sentence for anyone using one on a police officer.

    As for four months, he'll probably only serve two with good behaviour and then be out on licence.

    (And I vote for Pork-Chopper)

  36. Darkside
    Black Helicopters

    re Surveillance defence

    How powerful a laser pointer do I need for blinding street CCTV? Will the normal 5mW conference type do it?

    BTW the police helicopters that fly over our estate are lower than people have suggested: 1-200m. Not terribly safe but if the pilot couldn't see he could climb for safety, at least up to the bottom of the Heathrow holding pattern.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Oh and what about them speeding and all that fighting in riots.

    Why are they alowed to carry guns and im not.

    Stupid. Just stupid.

  38. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Isn't red light better for night vision?

    Red light does not deplete the chemicals necessary for sensitivity to low light levels. So shouldn't a cockpit flooded with red light have left the pilot's eyes in a state capable of still seeing? Is diffracted coherent light from a AA battery at a distance still hazardous?

    Paris, brighter at a distance.

  39. B Parnell


    what about Helicopper


    Mine's the high visibility overcoat.

  40. Steven Raith
    Paris Hilton


    "Well, what about the blinding light from the chopper's light?

    What about the debilitating pain from a tazer?

    Or are only the police allowed to avail themselves of protection for a boo boo?"

    Ignoring the taser point, seeing as that has jack to do with this, if you are on the ground, and a police chopper lights you up with a NightSun, you cover your eyes with your arm/hands and squint. You are at no imnediate risk.

    If you are in a chopper, get blinded, and cover your eyes with your arm/hand and squint, you run a significantly higher risk of losing control, and possibly crashing. As police choppers are normally deployed in populated areas, you risk crashing and burning in, say, a housing estate or town centre.

    Congratulations on your lack of ability to find the point.

    I have created a small map for you depicting the search.

    <Mark> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - <the point>

    Paris, because she's a member of Mensa in comparison to you.

    Steven R

  41. Mike
    Paris Hilton

    @ RobaJob

    LOL - What has the Middle East to do with what I was saying? Sorry about the grammar and spelling, I didn't think I was making a point to my School Teacher. Get a life! You sad specimen. I was merely pointing out the fact that criminals will counter actions from our State Police. What the hell the middle east has to do with what I was talking about is a mystery. Keep taking the hippy pills.

    Paris Hilton, need I say anymore

  42. Hoops

    Opinion from a helicopter pilot

    I happen to be a helicopter, private not commercial, and I can tell you that when you are up there you have enough to worry about, especially in the dark when you have to fly by instruments only, so the last thing you need I some chavvy scroat thinking he is funny by zapping you with his 'toy'.

    I am not sure if the 'frikin lazer beams' would light the cockpit up like a glitter ball but I wouldn't want to find out. search YouTube for helicopter crashes and imagine the carnage if the heli were to come down on a populated area like Manchester.

    Four months is nothing; we all know he will be out in two and his Playstation skills will be better than ever - so don't feel too sorry for him. Glad they made an example of him, my concern is this sort of press will probably on server to inspires the scum of society, rather than deters them.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    And now that the web page looks like a plasterers radio.

    And you've all got the "OMFG THINK OF THE FREEDOM!!oneone!" jism out of your systems. I'll join the chorus singing "100mW is pretty evil".

    I've personally lit up a pylon from four miles away with one of these, and can confirm that even doubly difused reflections are painfull. The back scatter on water in the air is quite impressive at that wavelength (and that power) so you can see the beam trace as well as the end point. I can well imagine that the guy was just falling around and wondered if he could "hit" the plodcopter.

    That said he was messing around with something that poses a serious eye hazard, can reflect unpredictably, and is of dubious legality. Why should he be treated any more gently than someone who drives wrecklessly? Or throws fireworks in the street or does anything else that is quite evidently dangerous to bystanders?

    The attitude here seems to be that because it was a police pilot he was fair game.

    Had the helicopter crashed, oweing to this guys stupidity, you presumably wouldn't want the guy held at all responsible.

    A few years ago there were cases of idiots dazelling Bus drivers with laser pointers. Now I'll agree that bus drivers are some of my least favourite people, but only a complete twat would think that dazelling the driver of a vehicle travelling at speed down a busy street is a good laugh.

    Black choper bcause clearly the fuckwit conspiracy is breaking cover.

  44. Steve
    Thumb Down

    Luddite BBC reporting

    They had some woman pointing a laser at the ceiling in a studio saying, "This is how bright it is at just 30m, but the police helicopter was flying at over 100m..."

    It doesn't gain brightness with distance you cretins!

  45. Steve

    @ Steven Raith

    "if you are on the ground, and a police chopper lights you up with a NightSun, you cover your eyes with your arm/hands and squint. You are at no imnediate risk."

    Unless you're driving a car.

    Or maybe waiting at a bus stop as the driver get's blinded and slides over to the left a little to far.

    Maybe you're an elderly resident walking down some steps who loses their balance and breaks their hip.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ "Black choper bcause clearly the fuckwit conspiracy is breaking cover."

    Been to Westminster have you ?

    Also :

    "The attitude here seems to be that because it was a police pilot he was fair game."

    He doesn't have to be in a helicopter.

    Who do the Police protect ?

    I only know people they've hurt.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Police - how many to they hurt

    Have never been able to get the stats on how many people the Police kill and hurt each year.

    Decided to check on this after I saw a story appear on BBC news site about police car running over a woman, killing her, then the driver arresting her husband.

    The story disappeared within 30 minutes.

    Apparently these figures are not available from the National Statistics or National Audit offices.

    I don't think the only good policeman is a dead one, but I have absolutely no use for them at all.

  48. Alistair
    Black Helicopters

    @ robocopter sympathisers

    I think a caution for "obstructing a police officer" would be the appropriate sanction. Thats what you get for unplugging temporary speed cameras on the M4, or so I'm told ...

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hi .. I'm a Brazilian backpacker with a light pen

    Anyone fancy joining me for a jog round London ?

  50. Charles


    The intense power of a NightSun is intended to light up a large area--it's a flashlight on steroids. Since the helicopter is up in the air, having that large spotlight makes for an effective night canvass. Down at ground level, it's supposed to be no worse than a car's headlights or a street lamp. And since it's going *downward*, drivers usually are at little risk of blindness because they're shaded by their vehicle roofs.

  51. Hoops

    FYI - Police helicopter yes - police pilots no...

    Just as a FYI, the pilots in the aircraft here are not police officers, nor are they paid by the police. Where I live they are employed by Bond Helicopter and are professional pilots, the same pilots who also fly the Air Ambulance to save the lives of people so show them some respect, you may need them one day.

    As for the idiots here who say that police helicopters are annoying at 1 in the morning, sure they are annoying, but not as annoying as the little f****r they are chasing who just stole and burnt your car out. As for flying too low, they have very strict rules that do not allow them to below 500 of built up areas.

    I am amazed people are bashing the pilots here like they have done something wrong - probably the same retards who steal the cars in the first place.

  52. Paul

    @Mike & @AC


    Oh. I see now. Your 12.

    RE: @ "Black choper bcause clearly the fuckwit conspiracy is breaking cover."

    You seem to be a nasty person then and have nasty friends. The type that says things like "My mate was stoped by the police for nothing the other day. Now hes in prison cos they did him for GBH that was like a month ago. Its just unfair. He wasent doing anything"

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Hoops

    Didn't see any pilot bashing - all bile aimed at Police.

    However ..... the argument about sub-contracting for the police is confusing.

    Whether you are a contractor or a permanent employee you are still part of the machine.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @Without defending...

    I can sympathise with that - I used to live in South Tottenham, and without fail almost every weekend the damned police helicopter is hovering overhead in monotonous circles drowning out the TV. You could probably learn to live with it if you knew it was making the place safe to live, but no - South Tottenham continues to be a well dodgy area.

    ... now I live in the next district over, where the racket from the chopper isn't so bad. Now its low flying commercial flights piss me off.

    Thats the problem with living in the hillier parts of North London - you're up a lot closer to the planes which are decending into the low-level aproach circuit. There is no particular bit which is under a flight path - the planes seem to come from everywhere.

  55. call me scruffy


    Sorry mate but the phase is "adn't dun nuffink"

    Sadly we can expect to see more of this as the powers that be start cramming more and more chavs through "IT" courses, and some of those chavs find their way to these hallowed pages. Shame they don't give them a phrase book.

    "wot you looking at?" -> "Thank you for giving me a job, what should I do next?"

  56. Mark

    @Steven Raith

    o <- The point









    o <- you


    / \

    As some others have pointed out.

    Now get your hand out of that coppers jacket. Who do you think you are? George Michael?

  57. Steve Smith
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Plodcopter?

    Surely you meant "'whirley-pig"?

  58. Miami Mike

    cure this once and for all

    Well lets hack together an answer which will solve this problem once and for all.

    We start with the auto-target-acquisition radar, software and automatic Gatling gun off the CWS (close-in-weapons system) used on naval ships to counter low-flying anti-ship missiles.

    Now we also need a laser detector, as used in aircraft defense - many military systems used to attack aircraft are laser aimed and some are laser guided, so there is equipment available to determine which direction the threat is coming from.

    Then we mount all of this in a C-130, preferably the one they are using for the airborne laser cannon experiments (4" diameter beam, 25 miles range, puts a large, smoking hole lengthwise through a main battle tank in a blink of an eye).

    Now we could use either the Gatling gun or the laser cannon (or both), after all the point of using a C-130 is to be able to carry lots of "stuff".

    Evildoer aims his laser pointer at the aircraft, the computer determines the "return path", fires the main battle laser (evildoer goes "poof") and then blasts the surrounding area to smithereens with the Gatling gun . . . pilot comments to co-pilot, hey, the laser just fired, and flies merrily onward . . .

    Evildoer's buddies (those that survive, anyway) might get the idea that aiming laser pointers at aircraft might not be such a "bright" idea after all.

    (Sounds like a very Yank suggestion - aren't we famous for automatically blasting the crap out of everything in sight and then after the smoke clears seeing what we might have actually hit?)

  59. Anonymous Coward

    Plod is always buzzing 'copters... 3am in Stockport. Occasionally they buzz about during the day due to the odd (ever increasing) armed robbery. Whether they catch anyone or not, I can't say. We are told that we shouldn't mind this as the police are only doing their job. Well I bloody well do mind. Who's idea was it to give coppers tech stuff for God's sake? It's only made them worse. As for call me scruffy's point, fear not, they can only find their way around IE6/7. Which, according to the govt, makes them computer literate (*seriously*, it took me 3/4 hour to do my "qualification" which I passed like water, it then it took a year to get the certificate and not only that, it was printed on the wrong bloody side). As for stuff that folk in the real world want (Word, Access, Excel etc) the nutters who train them can't use them either.

  60. Anonymous Coward

    Ignorance and arrogance...

    Quote: "it's the police ones that seem to visit at least a couple of times a week in the small hours of the morning that are the seriously annoying ones. Whiny engines, circling around for ages for no obvious reason. It's almost like they need to operate them to justify their mere existence..."

    We have no idea why police helicopters are deployed; given the choice that it's a) because there is a legitimate reason but you're quite understandably unaware of it, or b) they're just flying around to waste fuel and money, and to annoy you, I would suggest the former is more likely. How would_you_know why an aircraft is in your area? If you're that interested, make a Freedom of Information Act request to your local police service HQ. Of course, it's easier just to whinge...

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ ignorance and arogance

    I've never heard a better description of our Police force - well done.

    Dead Vulture

    I Doubt It.

    Bring GUN To Class? Its' Self Defense Thing? Somehow I believe this story revolves around LIE on Pilots PART. BTW 20% of all helicopters in service crash each year, so its' NO Brainer. Both story & Fate of Pilot are too SAD to Believe People are that Stupid.


  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a correction

    Never one to stand between englishmen out to forcibly correct other englishmen over matters politic, as I understand it the current amendments to legislation in NSW, Australia, simply add laser pointers (explicitly) to the list of dangerous implements that includes knives but that also (implicitly) includes big sticks.

    In practice you would have to have a reason for having such a thing in a public place.

    I havent found any actual legislation yet, but some news stories state that class 4 lasers or higher would become prohibited weapons, but it may well be that already were. In any case they would be in the company of sling shots and knuckle dusters. Firearms are a different kettle of fish altogether.

    Regardless, it may be that the "Australians ban bright light" hobby horse can be left in the stable for a while.. No?

    Ok, then.

    Roundheads! Cavaliers! Resume!

  64. Anonymous Coward



    I'm sorry, but until you pay me that £359,000[THREE HUNDERED AND FIFTY NINE THOUSAND BRITISH POUNDS] that we were going to split from the nigerian state pharmacutical company, I find it difficult to trust you.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Flying Pigs

    I thought they where just called flying pigs, as in

    "I'll stop speeding when Pigs Fly....."

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