Sentencing delay for laser duo

AMY MAAS
Last updated 10:43 21/02/2013
the Eagle helicopter
Fairfax NZ
TARGETED: The Eagle helicopter became the focus of a laser strike.

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Two young Auckland men found guilty of pointing a laser at a police helicopter while at a party will have to wait another two weeks to be sentenced.

Michael Josh O'Hare-Knight, 20, and James John Spiers, 18, appeared at the Auckland District Court this morning where Judge Nevin Dawson postponed sentencing until March 7 so that probation reports can be filed.

Both were charged with dangerous activity involving aircraft under the Civil Aviation Act.

The charges relate to an incident in May 2012, when the two men pointed a laser at a police Eagle helicopter from Asquith Ave, Mt Albert.

Both men denied the charges, went on trial and were found guilty in November last year.

During the trial, the court heard the Eagle helicopter was targeted by the laser light at least a dozen times, flooding the cockpit with green light around 11pm on the day of the incident.

Sergeant Grant, who was in the helicopter at the time, said he used a mapping system on board the aircraft to track where the strike was coming from, despite the dangers posed by the laser.

"We have sworn an oath and have a responsibility to the aviation community to keep the skies as safe as possible and we have to balance that with the need to keep ourselves safe," said Grant.

He started recording the laser strikes using the "Flir" camera system once the source was located.

A video taken from the helicopter, and shown in court, showed a group of around 20 people gathered on the back deck of the Mt Albert home. A laser is shone at the helicopter at least half a dozen times from the left-hand side of the deck.

Police were dispatched to the address and removed two men suspected of shining the laser in the direction of the helicopter.

They were arrested and taken to Avondale Police Station where they were charged.

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