A 62-year-old  man has been cleared of shining a laser beam at a police helicopter after telling a court that he thought the chopper was a UFO.

Timothy Wilsdon, of Station Road, Blockley, near Moreton-in-Marsh, pleaded not guilty to dazzling the police pilot with the laser on November 13, 2020 and maintained he was suffering from a medical condition which made him delusional.

He told district judge Nicholas Wattam at Cirencester Courthouse he thought the helicopter “was some sort of an alien craft.”

District Judge Wattam described Mr Wilsdon’s behaviour as ‘illogical, nonsensical and dangerous’ but acquitted him of the charge because there was ‘clear medical opinion that Mr Wilsdon was suffering from a cognitive impairment at the time.’

In evidence Mr Wilsdon said he had often seen military aircraft flying over his home village towards the RAF Fairford base in the Cotswolds but the helicopter that night appeared to be “something out of the ordinary.”

“I thought the object in the sky was some sort of an alien craft,” he told the court. “It sounded like a Spitfire diving to the ground having been shot down.

“The light coming from it resembled a disco strobe light that penetrated my blackout blinds at home and I saw it change colours.

“I may have shone the laser a number of times at the helicopter but at the time I didn’t know what it was, I was trying to work out what it was.

“I have a strong affinity with unidentified flying objects. I now feel embarrassed talking about this now.”

Prosecutor Graham Dono told the court the police helicopter had been called out by Gloucestershire Police to the Blockley area on an unrelated matter during the early hours of that morning and it was hovering over the village at around 3am as the crew relayed information to a team on the ground.

“At 3:40am the pilot began positioning the helicopter in the required location when he saw a bright green laser beam light enter the cockpit through the port side windows,” said the prosecutor.

“This dazzling light stayed illuminated in the cockpit for around five seconds. Two members of the crew immediately identified they were being targeted by a laser beam while the third crew member was able to pinpoint where the beam originated from.

“The pilot’s vision was affected by the bright light and as the helicopter moved position the laser beam followed it around and again the beam illuminated the cockpit.

“The second beam lasted for about ten seconds. The crew were able to use the on-board camera equipment to locate the source and the tactical flight officer was able to relay this information to the officers on the ground.”

The court was told that Mr Wilsdon has previous had mental health issues and had been a patient at Wotton Lawn Psychiatric Hospital in Gloucester following his daughter’s suicide nine years ago.

He was diagnosed with hemochromatosis which causes cognitive problems that had reportedly made him delusional because his normal thinking processes had been affected.

Psychiatrist Dr John Pilgram told the court: “At the time of the incident Mr Wilsdon was suffering jointly from a depressive disorder and post traumatic stress disorder.”

Vanessa Pople, defending, said: “Quite clearly he is not a well man and has been diagnosed with a number of medical issues.

“I feel he has a reasonable excuse for shining or directing the laser beam towards the police helicopter. He did not know what it was.”