Associated Press
April 8, 2008

ADELAIDE, Australia — An Australian man was sentenced Tuesday to nearly three years in jail for shining a laser pointer at a police helicopter and temporarily blinding the pilot.

Lanfranco Baldetti, 23, pleaded guilty to prejudicing the safe operation of an aircraft and to a number of weapons offenses for shining a green laser at a helicopter being used by police to track reckless drivers in the central city of Adelaide last June.

“What occurred here was a disaster in the making,” Judge David Smith said in issuing the sentence of two years and 10 months.

The verdict comes in the wake of a series of laser attacks on airplanes in Sydney that prompted the federal government to restrict sales of laser pointers — typically used in classrooms and presentations. Some of the planes had to divert their landings due to the laser glare.

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