‘Carnage’ if police helicopter had crashed in Lurgan

The PSNI helicopter
The PSNI helicopter

There could have been ‘carnage’ if a police helicopter had been taken out of the sky after a 27-year-old man shone a laser beam at the aircraft, Craigavon Magistrates Court heard last Wednesday.

Sentencing Sean McKenna, Kilwilke Road, Lurgan, the judge said there could have been horrific consequences.

At an earlier court he pleaded guilty to disorderly behaviour at Filbin Crescent in Lurgan and that he shone or directed a laser beam at a PSNI air support unit helicopter.

The case was adjourned to get a pre-sentence report.

A prosecutor said that on February 9 this year at 6.15pm a police patrol in the Kilwilkie area of Lurgan had a green laser beam shone at their vehicle a number of times.

At 6.45pm they were contacted by the police helicopter and told that a green light had been shone at the aircraft several times.

The aircraft officer provided a description of the defendant who was seen to throw something into a front garden.

He made off and jumped a back fence into a property. The home owner, who did not know the defendant, said McKenna appeared distressed and said he was suffering an asthma attack.

He shouted ‘up the Ra’ to police and was arrested for disorderly behaviour.

Defence barrister Barry McKenna said his client didn’t have much recollection of the incident and alcohol was a feature in all his offending.

District Judge, Mrs Bernie Kelly, said the defendant was lucky he was facing this charge as he could have been facing an entirely different charge in the Crown Court.

She added that there would have been horrific consequences if the aircraft had been taken out of the sky.

“This is as highly populated area,” she added. “Can you imagine the carnage it could have caused?”

Judge Kelly said it was an extremely serious offence and there was only one penalty she could impose.

She sentenced McKenna to three months prison on each of the two offences with the terms to run concurrently and ordered him to pay a £25 offender’s levy.

Later in the court she set bail for him to appeal against the sentences and, if he perfected this bail, she released him pending appeal.