A NEWPORT man is beginning a six month term behind bars for shining a laser at a police helicopter.

Ross McDonnell-Jones, 21, of Ringland Centre, appeared in Cardiff Crown Court having previously pleaded guilty to recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft.

Prosecutor James Wilson said the police helicopter was flying at around 3,000 feet over Newport the in early hours of October 12 last year, when the pilot and two crew members on board saw a bright green laser being shone at the aircraft.

Mr Wilson said the pilot lost his night vision and had to tilt his head away from the light, causing him to lose sight of the instruments and putting the aircraft in momentary danger.

The court heard the incident lasted for around five minutes, but officers were able to identify the address the light was coming from.

Ground officers attended McDonnell-Jones’ address and found the laser pen hidden under the mattress of a baby’s cot in an upstairs bedroom.

During interview, McDonnell-Jones said he bought the laser pen the previous day and had been shining it outside the house, but did not see the helicopter.

McDonnell-Jones pleaded guilty on August 3 this year, the day his trial was due to start.

Leighton Hughes, defending, said McDonnell-Jones had no concept of the risk he was imposing to the aircraft. Mr Hughes said the defendant had no previous convictions, had a good work record and a young child with his fiancée.

Mr Hughes said McDonnell-Jones previously had problems with cannabis, which had once led to him being hospitalised, and described his health as “delicate.”

He said: “Notwithstanding this serious and extremely reckless behaviour from a year ago, ultimately Ross McDonnell-Jones is one of the good guys.”

Mr Recorder James Petts said previous cases in the Court of Appeal had upheld custodial sentences for similar offences, as the consequences of such offending could be “catastrophic,” and said he was unable to suspend any sentence.

McDonnell-Jones was sentenced to six months in a young offenders' institution.