Laser aimed at B.C. helicopter a 'real danger'
Accused handed conditional sentence
A B.C. man who pointed a laser at a police helicopter should be handed a five-month conditional sentence for an act that was a "real danger" to the aircraft, a Crown prosecutor said Friday.
The accused, Alexander Schiller, apologized in court Friday for pointing the $75 laser device at an RCMP helicopter over Vancouver on the night of April 15, 2011. Schiller, 31, said he was doing it for fun and had no idea it was dangerous.
Schiller learned just how seriously authorities view the matter when officers on the ground arrested him minutes later, Crown counsel Jason Krupa said.
"Even though someone might think this is a prank – or innocent – it actually puts real people in real danger," Krupa said.
The court was told the helicopter cockpit was flooded with bright green light, temporarily blinding the pilot.
"The distraction to the pilots can cause serious consequences," Krupa said. "They have a lot going on in the cockpit at the time in any aircraft."
Laser pointers are becoming a growing risk to pilots. It has become such a problem in the United States that the FBI has established a strike force to combat the crime.
In 2005, there were 283 incidents recorded in the U.S., but that number had grown 10-fold by 2011. There were 229 incidents in Canada last year, an increase of 25 per cent from 2010.
Schiller’s lawyer did not dispute the Crown’s sentence suggestion. Sentencing is scheduled to take place in January.
With files from the CBC's Tim Weekes and Jason Proctor