A man who pointed a laser at a helicopter crew who were searching for a missing person has been jailed.

Madalin Mihele, 30, of Chilterns, Hatfield, shone the pen at the crew who were looking for a high-risk person in Hatfield.

But during the search which centred over a heavily populated residential area, they came under attack from numerous laser strikes forcing the crew to shield their eyes.

Thankfully, the pilot was able to maintain his position in the sky despite the laser attack, and he was able to point officers on the ground towards the missing person.

Hertfordshire Constabulary's attention then turned to the finding the culprit who was shining the laser and worked out it was an address in Chilterns. They found Mihele who was arrested.

At St Albans Crown Court on July 23, Mihele was sentenced to eight months in prison, having previously pleaded guilty to a charge of recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or person in an aircraft.


Detective Constable Paul Saunders, who investigated, said: “All three members of the crew suffered injuries including headaches as well as streaming and sore eyes. Thankfully, the injuries were short-lasting but these still required hospital treatment on the night, with further follow-up appointments.

"Not only did Mihele endanger the crew and lower the chances of safely finding the missing person, but the helicopter was flying over a densely populated area and had it crashed, it would undoubtedly have injured or killed a lot of people.

"In addition to the custodial sentence, Mihele has been ordered to pay a fine of £140. I hope that Mihele spends his time behind bars reflecting seriously on his actions that night.

"While playing with laser pens might seem like harmless fun, this case demonstrates that they can have very real dangers. Anyone tempted to engage in the sort of behaviour that Mihele did, should certainly think twice or else run the risk of a prison sentence."

Russ Woolford, assistant operations director for National Police Air Service in the south east, added: "We welcome the sentencing of this individual, as it sends a clear message to anyone thinking of doing the same. Our crew, and people on the ground, were put at risk by this reckless behaviour."