14th Dec, 2017

Warwickshire man first in country to be convicted of drone-related offences

Laura Kearns 15th Jul, 2017

A DRONE flyer has become the first in Warwickshire to be convicted for drone-related offences, which included flying within restricted areas of Wellesbourne Airfield.

Richard Smith of Alcester Road, Stratford, pleaded guilty to 15 offences which took place over four drone flights between December and January.

They included flying within restricted airspace of Wellesbourne Airfield, over the main road, houses and school of Lower Quinton, and through fog and above the clouds.

The drone had also been fitted with software to make it fly further than normal.

The 37 year-old’s conviction at Leamington Magistrates Court resulted in nearly £600 in fines and costs and his drone was confiscated by police. He is the first person to be convicted of drone-related offences under the Air Navigation Order 2016.

The investigation began following a report of YouTube video footage showing concerning drone flights taking place across south Warwickshire.

Shipston-based officer PC Craig Purcell said: “We see many video examples across the internet of people purchasing their first drone and failing to adhere to laws put in place to protect members of the public.

“People need to be aware that you can’t just buy one of these machines, throw it into the air and start flying wherever you want without thought.

“The cost of drone technology is reducing rapidly. The second hand market is bringing costs down even further meaning a 1kg to 2kg drone can be bought by somebody who has no idea how many times it has been crashed in the past or if it is structurally still sound.

“The courts have recognised the issue and with the decision to deprive Mr Smith of his drone on conviction we hope this sends a strong message to those who are giving the responsible hobbyist community a bad name.”

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