An Auckland man who shone a laser into the cockpits of an Air New Zealand plane and police helicopter has avoided jail time and a hefty fine.
Jesse James Halpin appeared in the North Shore District Court this morning, where he was sentenced to supervision and community work.
Halpin shone a green laser directly at an Air New Zealand plane, from North Head Reserve, as the aircraft was coming in to land at Auckland Airport about 8.30pm on April 4.
Judge Lawrence Hinton said the pilot was alerted to the act by a bright green beam, which momentarily distracted him from the landing procedure.
About half an hour later, the police Eagle helicopter flew over North Head Reserve.
Again, the 27-year-old man shone a laser beam directly at the aircraft, and into the cockpit.
Judge Hinton said this impaired the pilot's capacity to safely fly the helicopter, for a short period of time.
The judge said Halpin had told police that in hindsight he realised how dangerous this was.
A victim impact statement from the Air New Zealand pilot explained that laser strike was so dangerous because at night a pilots' eyes are adjusted to seeing in the dark.
When a laser beam shines into the cockpit, their sight is greatly diminished.
The pilot said it takes precious minutes for their eyesight to adjust back to night flying conditions.
The statement also expressed the pilot's concern that such acts did not just endanger those flying the aircraft, but the large number of people who on board.
Judge Hinton said police had made submissions noting it was serious offending which could have been fatal.
"You must be deterred and the general public must be deterred, and your general misconduct denounced," Judge Hinton said.
He convicted Halpin on one charge of causing an aircraft to be operated in a manner causing unnecessary danger.
This charge carries a maximum penalty of one year's imprisonment or a $10,000 fine.
The Glenfield local was also convicted and discharged on one count of procuring/possessing cannabis.He will serve 12 months supervision and undertake 100 hours of community work for the Civil Aviation Act breach.