A drone enthusiast who flew his device over Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and football stadiums, has been banned in the first prosecution of its kind in the UK.
Photo for illustration purposes only
Nigel Wilson, 42, from Bingham in Nottingham, was convicted of flying drones over buildings and congested areas.
He pleaded guilty to nine offences in contravention of the Air Navigation Order 2009.
Wilson was fined £1,800, ordered to pay £600 costs and banned from buying, owning or flying any drone for the next two years. Neither is he allowed to help anyone else use a drone.
Wilson flew an unmanned drone over buildings in congested areas, or where he had no direct line of site of the drone – as required under rules laid down by the UK aviation regulator, the CAA.
Incidents included flying a drone over Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, the iPro Stadium in Derby, the Etihad Stadium in Manchester and Emirates Stadium in London – all on match days.
Police also discovered he had flown a drone over, or near, famous London landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and the Shard.
Wilson was convicted at Westminster Magistrates Court, which heard he had used the drone flights to shoot videos for uploading to YouTube, according to the Press Association.
His defence lawyer Susan Bryant described her client – who is reported to be a security guard – as a ‘hobbyist’.
Bryant added: ‘It was something he put a great deal of time into, in terms of improving his skill.’
This is the first prosecution to be brought by the police and Crown Prosecution Service.
The CAA has previously brought two successful prosecutions.
Chief inspector Nick Aldworth, the Metropolitan Police’s lead officer on the misuse of drones, said on 15 September: ‘As drones become more widely available, it’s important that anyone using this type of small aircraft understands that there are strict regulations on how and where they can be flown, and that police, in partnership with the CAA, will look to prosecute anyone who does not follow these rules.’
He added: ‘Flying drones over congested areas or buildings can pose great risks to public safety and security, and Wilson put many people in real danger.
‘Today’s outcome should serve as a warning to anyone thinking of doing similar that they could end up in court if they ignore these regulations.’
A spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said: ‘As this case shows, anyone flying a drone needs to understand that there are safety rules in place which have to be followed.
‘These rules are there to protect the safety of the general public and other airspace users.
‘It is clearly not appropriate to fly a drone over large crowds of people or close to buildings and the CAA will continue working with the police to ensure these safety rules are upheld.’
Under articles 166 and 167 of the Air Navigation Order, anyone flying a drone must:
• Keep the drone within ‘line of sight’ at all times, that is no more than 400ft vertically and 500m horizontally
• Take responsibility for avoiding collisions with other people or objects – including aircraft
• Not fly the drone over a congested area (streets, towns and cities)
• Not fly the drone within 50m of a person, vehicle, building or structure, or overhead large assemblies of people, such a spectators at sporting events or concerts
• Obtain permission from the Civil Aviation Authority to use a drone for any kind of paid work or commercial activity
For more information about the rules for flying drones, visit www.caa.co.uk.