The first operator to be convicted in the UK for illegally flying his drone out of visual contact, over a congested area and within 50 meters of buildings, has been fined £1800 (about $2,800).
Nigel Wilson, a 42-year-old security guard from Nottingham, was also ordered to pay £600 in costs after pleading guilty to offenses under the UK’s Air Navigation Order 2009.
His videos – posted on the “PV2+ Adventures” (Drone4Adventures) YouTube channel – feature dramatic music, slo-mo footage and lots of living things his three drones could have hurt or killed.
London 24 quotes Westminster Magistrates’ Court Judge Purdy:
At each and every one of these places an accident could have occurred simply by a gust of wind or something of that nature taking it out of your control. In each and every case you knew what you were doing.
Several times you were warned by police, who seized drones from you, and on numerous occasions by people posting on your YouTube channel. It was the height of arrogance in terms of public safety.
The creatures whom Wilson menaced include police horses that, police said, were startled by his drones at a Champions League game at Anfield.
Another of Wilson’s videos is of a boxer-like dog in a park, leaping up to attack the drone.
But those creatures are far outnumbered by the number of athletes and spectators in the stadiums over which he flew his unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to capture footage.
Besides being fined £200 for each of his nine offenses – plus the £600 additional fee for costs – Wilson was also given two crime prevention orders banning him from purchasing, borrowing or using for any purpose a drone, or encouraging anyone else to do so, for the next two years.
He pleaded guilty to four charges of flying small UAVs over a congested area and five of not maintaining direct, unaided visual contact with a small UAV.
With this first successful prosecution of illegal drone operation under their belt, London’s Metropolitan Police are now warning that they plan to prosecute anyone who fails to follow drone flight 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.