An Irishman has been handed a six-month suspended sentence and a $7,325 fine for landing a helicopter on the roof of a supermarket store roof.
Sean O’Brien landed the chopper on the roof of the Parkrite Texas Centre, Athlone, Co Westmeath in order to collect a set of keys. The 50-year-old was found guilty on one of the ten charges emanating from the illegal maneuver, which took place in July 2007.
O’Brien. who holds a U.S. pilot's license, argued that he was applying the rules he had learned from his American training.
Judge David Anderson, who presided over the case, was having none of O'Brien's defense.
"You are telling me in Florida there are no regulations in relation to landing a helicopter on top of a supermarket."
O'Brien was released on bail last year as long as he agreed not to operate an aircraft, and when asked in court on Monday if he understood the seriousness of his actions, O’Brien said he recognized that is was a dangerous move due to the lack of a designated landing area.
This did not go down well with the Judge.
'Mr O'Brien still doesn't understand why he shouldn't land on a supermarket,' continued the judge, who went on to say that the stunt could have had deadly consequences had a fire broken out.
"The defendant now displays no grasp whatsoever of the rules, common sense, that is where he has difficulty."
O’Brien's lawyer said his client was now on disability and had no income. Judge Anderson gave him the fine and suspended sentence while he considers the other nine charges.