Laser thug targeted helicopter trying to land desperately ill child at the ERI

An air ambulance forced to abort a landing at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh after it was targeted by a laser yob was carrying a desperately ill child in need of urgent specialist medical care, it has been revealed.

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The Scottish Ambulance Service helicopter was transferring the youngster from Dundee to the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People (RHCYP) in Edinburgh on Sunday July 25.

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The pilot was attempting to land on a helipad at the adjacent Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) around 11.40pm but was forced to abandon attempts after the aircraft was targeted with the laser.

The helideck at the Royal Infirmary of EdinburghThe helideck at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
The helideck at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

The helicopter was forced to divert nine miles to Edinburgh Airport, and the child had to be transported to the hospital by road, meaning a further 14 mile journey that added crucial minutes.

The Scottish Ambulance Service has branded the person responsible was "incredibly reckless" and said the incident could have endangered the child and the mercy crew.

A spokesperson said: "While transferring a child patient by air ambulance from Dundee to the Edinburgh Sick Kids on 25th July, our air ambulance helicopter was forced to divert to Edinburgh Airport following an incident with a laser pen.

"The patient was then transferred by road to hospital. This was an incredibly reckless action that could have endangered the patient and the crew, and Police Scotland are investigating."

Targeted: Scottish Ambulance Service helicopterTargeted: Scottish Ambulance Service helicopter
Targeted: Scottish Ambulance Service helicopter

Police Scotland confirmed it is currently investigating the incident, and appealed for witnesses.

A spokesperson for the force said: "We received a report around 11.40pm on Sunday, 25 July of a laser directed at a helicopter attempting to land at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

"The aircraft was forced to abandon the landing and divert elsewhere. This was an incredibly reckless act and enquiries are ongoing. We would urge anyone in possession of a laser device to think of the possible consequences of misusing them."

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Warnings have been issued in the past about the use of laser pens, which are often meant for business presentations, but used irresponsibly can disorientate or even temporarily blind people.

Under the Air Navigation Order 2016, "a person must not in the United Kingdom direct or shine any light at any aircraft in flight so as to dazzle or distract the pilot of the aircraft."

Successful prosecution can lead to a custodial sentence, an unlimited fine or both. Under the new law, which came into force in 2017, people who target transport operators with laser devices could be jailed for up to five years.

In recent years, laser yobs have been responsible for a string of incidents in Scotland and around the capital with regular reports from aircraft pilots being targeted on approach to Edinburgh Airport. Officers are still appealing for witnesses after a search and rescue helicopter was targeted by a yob with a laser pen near Dumfries, on July 17.* Anyone with information on the ERI incident is asked to call 101, quoting incident 4367 of 25 July.

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