A judge has said that a defendant deliberately directed a laser at a helicopter flying in Castlecliff because he knew that it was a police aircraft.
Terrance Harold Jackson shone the strong green light at the Eagle helicopter on the night of August 27, 2018.
It had been deployed in Whanganui to provide assistance and support for police and the public six days after Kevin Ratana was allegedly murdered on Puriri St.
At 8.54pm Jackson became annoyed and disturbed in his sleep, exited a Lee St address and pointed a laser at the helicopter for approximately six minutes.
He then jumped over the fences of several neighbouring properties to avoid being located by police and also tried to hide the laser.
However, he was arrested and charged with endangering transport, which he pleaded guilty to before being sentenced in Whanganui District Court.
"Mr Jackson must have had awareness as to why that helicopter was there, as all residents in Whanganui at the time had an awareness," Judge Philip Crayton said.
"This was not an act without thought. It was an intentional and persistent course of conduct. There was deliberate targeting of this aircraft for the reason that they were police or public officials."
Crown solicitor Ryan Benic submitted that these types of incidents are becoming more common and that the pilot recalled seven strikes in the past two years.
Judge Crayton said that Jackson's offending endangered lives, as well as the helicopter which he called a very high value public resource.
"The Crown identifies that the potential interference with the pilot's ability to see in a helicopter, where there is no autopilot setting and where the helicopter by its nature and duty engages in low-level flying, creates a greater risk to the crew as well as the public.
"It was clearly a deliberate targeting in order to get a response. The nature of the defendant's actions also do give insight that there was some awareness that he would as a consequence attract the attention of police officers."
Jackson had previous convictions for obstructing police activity and lacking co-operation with police.
Judge Crayton said Jackson's offending had to be denounced and significantly deterred.
He sentenced Jackson to 18 months' intensive supervision, six months' community detention and ordered the destruction of the laser pointer.
"Those targeted were public officials engaged in the protection of the community at a time of great tension in the Whanganui area. They were there for good reason," the judge said.
"The helicopter is an important, some could say vital, resource when it comes to not only the detection of crime, but the protection of the community."