A CHARD man who dazzled a police helicopter pilot with a laser pen has narrowly avoided prison.

Marc Webster, 45, of Furnham Road, was told he would not be jailed for his “idiotic action” because his teenage son needed him.

Webster, who previously pleaded guilty to recklessly and negligently endangering an aircraft, received a four-month prison sentence suspended for two years with a two-year supervision order at Taunton Crown Court.

Robert Prosser, prosecuting, said the helicopter pilot had to abort his mission when he and two police officers in the cockpit were “dazzled and distracted” by a green flash laser from a toy pen.

Webster, who claimed he was ill after taking contaminated drugs, was arrested after they managed to locate his house in the early hours of August 30.

Rebecca Bradberry, defending, said Webster had separated from his partner, who had alcohol problems, but he cared for his 16-year-old son in the evenings and at weekends.

She said: “He didn’t even know he’d hit the helicopter, but when the lights of the helicopter turned on his bedroom and lit it up he realised what he’d done.”

Sentencing, Mr Recorder Michael Parroy QC said: “The message should go out that people tempted to target helicopters in this idiotic and dangerous way should expect a custodial sentence.

“It’s absurd that these completely pointless toys are used to distract and disable helicopters engaged in the task of serious public good.

“You’re very lucky that some serious accident didn’t happen as a result of your action.

“You’re not going to jail by only the thinnest skin of your teeth.

“I don’t see why your son – in a very difficult family situation – should have that done as a result of your stupidity.”