Trial began on Wednesday for Javonnie Silburn, 21, who is accused of shining a laser at a police helicopter over East End on April 29, 2015.
The first witness to give evidence in person was Detective Constable Gustavo Rodrigues, who was in the police helicopter that was deployed in response to reports from officers patrolling the area in police cars.
Mr. Rodrigues said the helicopter deployed to East End around 9:30 p.m. and he observed “a bright red light appearing to be a laser-type light.” It was pointed right at him and bright enough to see without equipment. It lasted no more than five to 10 seconds.
Crown counsel Emma Hutchinson asked if that were the only time he saw the light. He said no – “The laser was pointed at the aircraft a number of times.”
He explained how he guided another officer, who was using an infrared camera, to position the camera over the area from which the light was being pointed. He saw on the camera screen two males standing in Fiddler’s Way. One had his hand pointed at the helicopter.
The officer passed his observations and descriptions of the men to a ground unit that was responding.
Asked how he felt, Mr. Rodrigues said he was concerned for the safety of the aircraft and his own safety. Asked why, he replied, “The laser could have an effect on the pilot in command, causing him to lose control of the aircraft, and also that the laser could be attached to a high-powered weapon.”
Defense attorney John Furniss was scheduled to question the officer after the lunch adjournment.
Before Mr. Rodrigues gave his evidence, Ms. Hutchinson read statements from four police officers involved on the ground. One explained that the incident started when she was driving past the East End graveyard around 8:55 p.m. and observed a red laser beam coming from the beachside. It appeared to be attached to a firearm. She stopped and made contact with officers in another car.
Other officers explained how they were in radio contact with the helicopter and, as a result, went to Fiddler’s Way, where there was a crowd. Identifying a person who matched the description given by Mr. Rodrigues, officers approached Silburn. He was asked if he had a laser; he said yes and quickly produced a flashlight from his waist. The officer who checked the flashlight said it showed a white LED light; when activated a second time, it showed a red laser beam.
Silburn was transported to Bodden Town Police Station. When cautioned, Silburn replied, “Yes sir, it wasn’t me, I swear.”
Interviewed days later, he said he had the flashlight because he took it from another male who left the area.
In court last month, Silburn admitted shining the light at the helicopter one time. The Crown did not accept that basis of plea.
Initially arrested for endangering an aircraft, he was brought to court on a charge of causing harassment, alarm or distress.