First UK conviction of person flying a drone illegally

The police have warned about flying drones where you shouldn’t, and now the first person in Britain has been convicted of the offence.

The 42-year-old man from Nottingham was convicted of illegally flying drones over buildings and congested areas. It’s the first successful police and Crown Prosecution Service-led prosecution of its kind in the UK.

Nigel Wilson pleaded guilty to seven offences under sections 166 and 167 of the Air Navigation Order 2009. He previously pleaded guilty to two offences at a hearing on 7 May.

Wilson flew an unmanned drone over various football stadia across England and over buildings in central London. He flew it so low over Anfield while Liverpool were playing that it startled police horses, according to the Metropolitan Police report.

He later posted footage of the football match on YouTube.

Between September and December 2014, he also flew his drone over the iPro Stadium in Derby, the Emirates Stadium in north London, and the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, all during busy match days.

He was arrested by Greater Manchester Police on 18 October 2014.

Chief inspector Nick Aldworth, from the Met’s specialist operations command – and the Met’s lead officer on the misuse of drones – said in a statement: “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.

“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.”

Wilson was sentenced to pay a fine of £1,800 plus £600 in costs.

SEE ALSO: Flying a drone: everything you need to know

Over the summer, police seized a drone flying over the All England Tennis Club where Wimbledon is held.

The law states that it’s illegal to fly drones within 50m of landmarks or buildings you don’t own, or within 150m of any congested area. You must also keep the drone within “line of sight” at all times and ensure it’s no more than 400ft away from you vertically and 500m horizontally.

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority recently launched a “drone code” to try to encourage responsible flying. For the full regulations, head to the CAA website.

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