A COTSWOLD man who has ‘a chronic anxiety about alien abduction’ has denied shining a laser beam at a police helicopter pilot flying over his home.
Timothy Wilsdon, 62, of Station Road, Blockley, near Moreton-in-Marsh, pleaded not guilty to directing a laser beam towards a moving helicopter, dazzling the pilot, on November 13, 2020.
Prosecutor Alexis Brown told the court the police helicopter had been called to the Blockley area on an unrelated matter during the early hours of Friday morning at around 3am.
“The police were carrying out an investigation in Blockley and had called on the police helicopter to provide assistance from above,” the prosecutor said.
“At 3.40am the pilot, Bryn Parker, was positioning the helicopter in the required location when he saw a bright green laser beam light enter the cockpit through the port side windows. It stayed illuminated for around five seconds.
“The pilot’s vision was affected by the bright light beam but he was still able to manoeuvre the helicopter and worked out roughly where the beam had come from.
“As the pilot manoeuvred the helicopter into a different position the laser beam continued to follow it around and the crew knew they were being deliberately targeted by the person using the laser pen.
“The helicopter crew knew it was a laser beam from previous experiences.
“The second beam lasted for about ten seconds as it again entered the cockpit. The crew were able to use the on-board camera equipment to locate where the source had come from.
“The tactical flight officer relayed the information to the police on the ground, who then approached the property.
“Mr Wilsdon answered the door to the police and is alleged to have handed over a laser pen to the officer but said he did not know what the device was.”
The court was told that under the Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Act 2018 a defendant convicted of a charge faces a five year prison sentence.
District Judge Nicholas Wattam asked the prosecutor if the helicopter had been in danger of crashing.
Ms Brown responded: “The pilot states that his vision had become blurred by the laser beam entering the cockpit but he was able to safely manoeuvre the helicopter away from the light source.”
Chloe Bennett defending said: “Mr Wilsdon has a number of medical and mental issues along with chronic anxiety about alien abduction.”
Judge Wattam accepted jurisdiction in the case and fixed a trial date – November 11 this year.
He stated that if Mr Wilsdon were to be found guilty he might have to be sentenced at the crown court, which has greater sentencing powers than the magistrates court.
Mr Wilsdon was granted unconditional bail until November 11.