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Christopher Lee, 21, tells jury 'I have been stupid' after shining laser at the bridge of berthing P&O ferry the Spirit of France captained by Alex Wroe

By Paul Hooper

A man – who shone a laser beam at the bridge of a ship when the captain was docking – told a jury today: “I have been stupid!”

But Christopher Lee, 21, from Dover, told Canterbury Crown Court he thought the Spirit of France cross-channel ferry had already docked.

He had been with three pals in a car in the National Trust car park near Dover Harbour when he used the laser pen on the bridge of the ship.

P&O Ferries ship the Spirit of France
P&O Ferries ship the Spirit of France

“I have been stupid and I was careless..because I knew it could affect people’s eyesight but I never intended on interfering with the safety of the ship,” he told the jury.

The captain, Alex Wroe alerted his second in command who contacted Dover Harbour Board and police officers went to the car park.

Lee told the court: “I realised I had done something wrong when I reflected on my actions. Police then arrived which didn’t surprise me.”

The court heard Lee immediately admitted he had been using the laser pen and handed it over to a police officer.

It was later examined by the jury – after the officer had removed the batteries as a precaution.

Dover Eastern Docks (6037355)
Dover Eastern Docks (6037355)

Lee, of Selkirk Road, Dover has denied interfering with the operation of the ferry.

Earlier the jury heard from the captain who claimed he was distracted by the laser beam as he was docking the packed vessel

He claimed the green beam could have resulted with the ship hitting the jetty and causing injuries to passengers.

Capt Wroe said he feared the beam might strike his eyes and he immediately lowered his sight to the deck "and had it continued the ship would have been effectively out of control."

Prosecutor Peter Forbes asked: “What was the immediate effect on you?”

The captain replied: “I had to move my head and look away in case the beam struck me causing irreparable damage to my eyesight.

“In self preservation I ducked my head and this took my focus and my attention away from handling the ship.”

Cpt Alex Wroe
Cpt Alex Wroe

The prosecutor said: “What is the impact on the safety of the vessel?”

Capt Wroe replied: “The safe navigation of a vessel can be totally destroyed because the crew cannot see where it is going or what is happening.

“There was a very real risk of a collision and the impact we were travelling, there would have been a jolt knocking people off their feet as passengers were making their way downstairs to their vehicles.”

He added that any jolt at that “critical phase of any voyage” could have caused vehicles to move, seriously injuring some passengers.”

The trial continues.

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