POLICE TARGET LASER YOUTHS

POLICE in Ballymoney are to send representatives to schools with a stern warning on the dangers of the misuse of laser pens.

According to a senior officer, a number of reports have been received within the last week of pens being shone at motorists in the Cloughmills and Ballymoney areas which could have serious consequences.

In a bid to make young people fully aware of the dangers, PSNI officers will visit local schools urging teachers to spell out a clear message to students that lasers used in the wrong way could result in people being taken to court. Parents have also been encouraged to keep an check on how children use the pens.

Inspector Anderson said what might appear to be harmless fun could conceivably turn into something potentially quite serious.

“A driver could be seriously injured,” he told the Times this week.

He added: “As a precaution we are planning to visit schools in the area and reminding young people that pens must be used responsibly.

“We need to stress that these pens are not illegal, but people need to use them with a common sense approach otherwise they could be breaking the law and that could lead to court.”

Inspector Anderson said the problem was not just unique to Ballymoney, but to many other areas as well.

Several years ago, a bus driver locally found himself the target of a laser pen user causing him serious problems at the time and forcing him to take time off work.

Meanwhile, an air ambulance was prevented from taking a dying man to hospital after a group flashed laser pens at the pilot as he tried to land, police said.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance went to the aid of a man who had suffered a heart attack shortly at the weekend.

The pilot was attempting to land the helicopter in the town of Calne to pick up the casualty when laser pens were shone at the aircraft, forcing him to abandon the landing.

The patient later died in a land ambulance as he was taken to Great Western Hospital in Swindon.

Police said they do not believe the helicopter being unable to land affected the outcome for the man but described the actions of the people involved as a “serious offence” that could have had “catastrophic” consequences.