Suspended sentence for Colchester man who shone laser into police helicopter cockpit

The police helicopter was searching Colchester when a green light flooded the cockpit. Picture: ARCH

The police helicopter was searching Colchester when a green light flooded the cockpit. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: David Lamming

A Colchester car wash attendant branded himself ‘stupid and immature’ for shining a laser into the cockpit of a police helicopter.

The pilot was forced to turn the helicopter away from the beam of light. ARCHANT LIBRARY

The pilot was forced to turn the helicopter away from the beam of light. ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: Archant

Florin Sorescu, 22, was told his actions on November 19 could have resulted in the death of the crew and people on the ground.

The Romanian national received a four-month suspended jail term at Ipswich Crown Court – to run consecutively with suspended sentences imposed for battery and failing to surrender to custody.

On Wednesday, prosecutor Daniel Taylor explained the helicopter had been carrying out a search when the crew were dazzled by a green beam of light.

“The pilot had to turn to reduce the dangerous dazzle,” he added.

Mr Taylor argued that Sorescu shone the laser – bought on eBay for £9 – six to eight times within 10 minutes, as the helicopter flew at 1,000ft and a speed of 40-60 knots.

The crew used a camera to locate the source of the beam to Sorescu’s address in Greenstead Road, where he denied guilt until ground officers found the pen in a kitchen cupboard. He then made admissions in custody but denied intentionally shining the laser directly at the helicopter.

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Paul Donegan, for Sorescu, said his plea was based on the pen being shone skyward more than once, but that he had no intention of shining it into the cockpit.

“He accepts it was incredibly stupid and grossly immature,” he added, explaining Sorescu was using the pen for the first time and was unaware of its power.

Sorescu and his older brother, said Mr Donegan, were working at car washes in Colchester to help settle a 10,600EUR loan his mother used to repatriate the body of his sister, who died in a swimming accident off Italy last year.

In January, Sorescu was given a 20-week suspended sentence and unpaid work for battery and failing to surrender to custody.

Recorder Clive Jones told him: “Imagine flying a helicopter and a bright light takes over the cabin.

“It doesn’t take much of a brain to understand it could cause the aircraft to crash. The outcome would be obvious. People would die. Those in the helicopter and, potentially, in a residential area.”

He said immediate custody would have a significantly harmful impact on Sorescu’s family, concluding: “I hope you will see this as a last chance.”

The sentence will be suspended for 14 months, consecutive to Sorescu’s existing spell. He must also carry out another 60 hours of unpaid work and pay £350 in costs.

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