A north London man has admitted shining a laser at a police helicopter causing a crew member to be temporarily blinded, as the Government announced new laws to crack down on offenders.
Limshin Chung Ching Wan, 42, targeted the National Police Air Service helicopter on 12 January by repeatedly pointing his green laser at the aircraft from the window of his flat in Blackdown Close, East Finchley.
A crew member momentarily lost vision as the helicopter was hit by the green light, police say, forcing the pilot to change course.
Officers managed to pinpoint Chung Ching Wan's location and make an arrest, finding him in possession of four "high-powered" laser pens.
He pleaded guilty to recklessly and negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft at Hendon Magistrates' Court last Tuesday (31 January).
Sergeant Jamie Kay, from Barnet Police, said: "Shining a laser at an aircraft is incredibly dangerous.
"The helicopter was over a built-up area and this had the potential to lead to catastrophic results both for the occupants of the helicopter and wholly innocent members of the public below who were probably sleeping in their beds. This was not accidental but a deliberate act by Chung Ching Wan.
"Lasers are not toys and they should be handled responsibly."
Chung Ching Wan will be sentenced at at Harrow Crown Court on a date to be confirmed.
Since 2011, there have been about 1,500 laser attacks recorded each year in the UK.
It is currently an offence to shine lasers at pilots, with offenders facing fines of up to £2,500 ($3,115) and/or up to five years in prison.
But investigators must prove a person endangered the aircraft.
On Sunday, Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling announced expanded powers that made it illegal for anyone to shine lasers at pilots, train or bus drivers – no matter what the intention or result.
"Shining a laser pointer at pilots or drivers is incredibly dangerous and could have fatal consequences," Grayling said. "Whilst we know laser pens can be fun and many users have good intentions, some are not aware of the risks of dazzling drivers or pilots putting public safety at risk.
"That's why we want to take the common sense approach to strengthen our laws to protect the public from those who are unaware of the dangers or even worse, intentionally want to cause harm. This kind of dangerous behaviour risks lives and must be stopped."