Laser hit plane with 118 passengers

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A man has been given a community sentence for shining a laser pointer at a passenger plane carrying 118 people as it came in to land at Auckland Airport.

Jarryd Hector, 22, was found guilty at a trial in September of one charge of endangering transport.

At Manukau District Court today, Judge Gus Andree Wiltens sentenced Hector to four months' community detention and 150 hours' community work.

According to the summary of facts, the incident took place on July 6 2012, when an Air New Zealand Boeing 737-500 aircraft from Christchurch was coming in to land at Auckland Airport with 113 passengers and five staff members on board.

As the aircraft made its approach over the Musick Point area, a green laser light flashed into the cockpit area. The flight deck was illuminated with a green light, which distracted the crew for about 30 seconds.

"The pilot and first officer were restricted from looking at the direction the laser came from due to the brightness of the light and the dangers of looking at laser lights," the summary said.

It was later established that the light was being beamed by someone at a party held in Howick.

When Hector was first spoken to by police, he admitted using the laser and pointing it at his friends and at motor vehicles, but denied pointing it at the aircraft.

Hector's community detention conditions included a curfew. If the conditions were breached, an 18-month prison sentence would be imposed, Judge Wiltens said, adding "there's no more partying".

Crown prosecutor Fiona Culliney told the court that the laser strike could have blinded the pilot and, because it happened when the flight was landing, had placed the lives of all on board at risk.

Judge Andree Wiltens said there was no doubt that alcohol was involved and Hector had admitted to consuming cannabis that evening - "a dangerous combination".

Hector had put the lives of 118 people at risk and if the aircraft had crashed into a residential area, further loss of life would have been likely.

- NZ Herald

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