Man jailed for shining laser at airliner coming into Bristol Airport

WEST COUNTRY – A man has been jailed for shining a laser at an airliner coming into land.

Andrew Wilson pleaded guilty to two counts of directing a laser beam at an aircraft, an offence under the Laser Misuse Act 2018.

The 53-year-old, of Martock, Somerset, first targeted a helicopter flying over Yeovil on 3 August 2022.

But in his second laser attack on Monday 14 August 2022, he hit an Airbus A320 passenger plane flying over Yeovil on its descent to Bristol Airport

The passenger jet was carrying almost 200 people on board at the time.

Both aircraft – which were hit shortly before midnight – involved were able to land safely, but the consequences of Wilson’s actions could have been devastating.

At Taunton Crown Court on 11 April, the defendant was jailed for four months.

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.

They said: “You can see how distractions and disturbances from laser attacks are dangerous whilst the pilots are required to be totally focused.

Laser attacks on aircraft also have the ability to temporarily ‘flash blind’…rendering one or both pilots blind whilst they are flying is obviously extremely dangerous.”

They added that 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.

PC Jason Marshalsea, of Avon and Somerset Police, 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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