Somerset man 'recklessly endangered the lives of hundreds of innocent people' through laser attacks

Andrew Wilson, 53 and from Martock was sentenced to four months in prison. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

A Somerset man has been jailed for two counts of directing a laser beam at aircraft - including targeting a plane with hundreds of passengers. 

Andrew Wilson, 53 and from Martock, was sentenced to four months imprisonment at Taunton Crown Court on Thursday 11 April.

At an earlier hearing he had admitted to directing a laser beam at aircraft on two occasions - an offence under the Laser Misuse Act 2018.

The first incident happened around 11.20pm on Thursday 3 August 2022, he targeted a helicopter flying over Yeovil.

On the second occasion, at about 11.55pm on Monday 14 August, he shone the laser at an Airbus A320 passenger plane flying over Yeovil on its descent to Bristol Airport, with almost 200 people on board.

  • Here's some footage taken from the aircraft during the attack (pictures from Avon and Somerset Police).

Both aircraft were able to make a safe landing.

One of the plane pilots stated in a personal statement read to the court that the laser attack happened during a "critical stage" of the flight.

The pilot said: "You can see how distractions and disturbances from laser attacks are dangerous whilst the pilots are required to be totally focused. 

“Laser attacks on aircraft also have the ability to temporarily 'flash blind' - rendering one or both pilots blind whilst they are flying is obviously extremely dangerous."

They also said attacks like this can lead to retina damage and long-term degradation of eyesight which could cost a pilot their career.

PC Jason Marshalsea, who worked on the case, said: "Shining a laser beam at an aircraft is dangerous and irresponsible and could result in catastrophic consequences. 

“Wilson not only jeopardised the eyesight of several pilots, but he also unnecessarily and recklessly endangered the lives of hundreds of innocent people on those aircraft."