Home   Dover   News   Article

Christopher Lee shone laser pen at ferry in Dover but acquitted of putting passengers in danger

By Paul Hooper

A man has been acquitted of using a laser pen to deliberately put a ferry in danger as it was docking - but was given a ticking off in court.

A jury took half an hour at the end of a three day trial to find Christopher Lee not guilty of the charge.

After the verdict at Canterbury Crown Court, the judge said the 21-year-old should not have been charged - and said he wouldn't have jailed him even if there had been a conviction.

Christopher Lee arriving at Canterbury Crown Court. Picture: Chris Davey
Christopher Lee arriving at Canterbury Crown Court. Picture: Chris Davey

Recorder Bruce Houlder QC said the Attorney General should have reviewed the file as there hadn’t been a “realistic” chance of a conviction.

Then he told Lee, of Selkirk Road, Dover: “I hope you have learned your lesson.”

Lee replied: “I certainly have.”

He had been charged with deliberately and knowingly interfering with the operation of the P&O vessel Spirit of France as it docked in Dover in March last year.

Shortly after his arrest, a new act, Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Act, came into force which made it an offence to shine or direct a laser beam towards a vehicle which is moving or ready to move or causing the beam to dazzle or distract a person with control of the vehicle.

It carries a maximum one year jail term and a fine.

“I realised I had done something wrong when I reflected on my actions..." - Christopher Lee

Lee, 21, told the jury he believed the Spirit of France had already docked when he shone the beam from his car.

He had been with three pals in a car in the National Trust car park overlooking Dover Eastern Docks when he directed the laser pen to the bridge of the ship.

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

The captain, Alex Wroe said he saw the laser as the ship was reversing into its birth and caused him to look away at a crucial moment.

He then alerted his second in command who contacted Dover Harbour Board and police officers went to the car park.

Cpt Alex Wroe
Cpt Alex Wroe

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.

Prosecutor Peter Forbes had asked the captain what had been the effect when he saw the laser light.

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.”

The prosecutor asked: “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.”

The judge asked the Crown Prosecution Service to write to the Attorney General’s Office to pass on his comments.

Join the debate...
Comments |

Don't have an account? Please Register first!

The KM Group does not moderate comments. Please click here for our house rules.

People who post abusive comments about other users or those featured in articles will be banned.

Thank you. Your comment has been received and will appear on the site shortly.


Terms of Comments
We do not actively moderate, monitor or edit contributions to the reader comments but we may intervene and take such action as we think necessary, please click here for our house rules. If you have any concerns over the contents on our site, please either register those concerns using the report abuse button, contact us here, email multimediadesk@thekmgroup.co.uk or call 01634 227989.

Follow us

Like Us on Facebook

Most popular

Kent Travel News

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More