Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Man charged with pointing laser at Eagle

Antic `incredibly dangerous and incredibly silly'.

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A man has been charged with shining a powerful laser - which police say was "like a light sabre" - at the Eagle helicopter from the balcony of his central Auckland apartment.

Kristian Larsen, 44, is facing a charge of endangering transport, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

Police say he was on his balcony on Karangahape Rd when he pointed a powerful blue laser at the Eagle.

It was taking off from the police helicopter base at Mechanics Bay at the time - almost 4km from Larsen's home.

The alleged incident came five days after the 20th anniversary of the fatal midair collision between a police helicopter and a traffic-spotting plane.

The chopper - also called Eagle - was hovering over the Southern Motorway after reports of a car crash when it and the plane collided above the intersection of Queen St and Karangahape Rd.

It is understood that the police tracked Larsen to the address where the laser was used.

He appeared in the Auckland District Court and was remanded on bail to reappear this month for a case review hearing.

It is understood that the laser is being tested by police to see exactly how powerful it is. Similar lasers can be seen in YouTube videos cutting through plastic and setting fire to other objects.

Police believe the laser was bought over the internet, but investigations are ongoing.

A police source said the incident had potential to be fatal. "Given the power of this laser and the potential for things to go wrong, it was incredibly dangerous and incredibly silly ... especially over a populated area."

Light prosecutions

May 2011: Joshua O'Hare-Knight, 19, and James Spiers, 17, shone a laser into the Eagle helicopter from an 18th birthday party. They were convicted and sentenced to community work.

September 2012: South Auckland teenager Pravikash Chandra, 19, sentenced to 4 months' home detention for pointing a laser at three commercial aircraft and a police helicopter.

February 2013: A 43-year-old appeared in the Nelson District Court after he allegedly pointed a laser light at the Nelson-Marlborough rescue helicopter on its way back from a late-night mission.

- NZ Herald

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